A goal down and with two players, including the captain, injured in the first half the Netherlands were up against it, but rallied to secure a point from Sweden.
An entertaining 1-1 draw at Bramall Lane in Group C was witnessed by the second biggest attendance of 21,342 for a non-host nation’s game at this year’s Women’s Euro.
Both teams started their journey to glory with a draw but coming into the tournament produced high-scoring matches against their opponents, with the Netherlands only losing once against England in friendlies and Sweden on a five-match unbeaten run.
Dutch manager Mark Parsons was forced to call on his bench before the interval when captain Sari van Veenendaal was injured and had to be replaced by young goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar, while Marisa Olislagers came on for centre-back Aniek Nouwen.
How often do you lose your captain and your centre-back in the first half?
In his post-match press conference, Parsons praised his team’s calmness when faced with adversity and the players who replaced those that were injured considering van Domselaar who was making only her second appearance in her nation’s colours.
“Emotionally the staff did a good job of staying very calm,” Parsons said.
“How often do you lose your captain and your centre-back in the first half? Of course [we’re] really worried about both of them. People have stepped in, Marisa and Daph were very, very important so it’s easy to stay calm actually.
“Because of that chaos our biggest job was to remain stable and remind people of their roles and responsibilities.”
Sweden opened the scoring in the 35th minute of a game that had a basketball feel as both sides exchanged ball possession very often and Kosovare Asllani used the opportunity in the transition to pass the ball to unmarked Jonna Andersson in the box, who converted and made it 1-0.
Sweden threatened all the time they had possession and created goal-scoring opportunities but were faced with a well-organised orange wall that foiled them at every turn.
The defending champions came out in the second half a different team and quickly equalised when Vivianne Miedema’s brilliance and work rate played in Jill Roord in the 51st minute.
The Netherlands had the most shots on goal with eight to Sweden’s seven and had the better of the ball possession with 54 per cent to 46 per cent.
Both teams changed things up to try and win with Sweden putting on Hanna Bennison, Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, and Stina Blackstenius in the 70th minute, while the Netherlands brought on Lineth Beerensteyn and Victoria Pelova in the 78th minute.
Sweden mounted a last-gasp attack to try and snatch all three points but Fridolina Rolfö’s shot was brilliantly saved by van Domselaar in the 86th minute and the two had to settle for a point a piece.
There were things that we did well, tactical things, but right now it’s just feelings.
Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson expressed the disappointment he and his team felt st not winning a game they had led for so long but indicated there were positives to take from the game.
“When you watch the game again there were things that we did well, tactical things, but right now it’s just feelings,” Gerhardsson said in the post-match press conference.
“I don’t speak to players after games like this because I need to see it [again] to better analyse.
“The Netherlands, when they’re defending high up, go with almost two strikers and if you play with three centre-backs it’s a little bit easier to come away from that.
“That was one thing why we chose that in this game. Can we keep the high press, because we are one less a little bit higher up? We forced them to play long balls from the left centre-back.”
Despite winning the tournament in 2017, the Netherlands did not play the game with any freedom and were at times, outclassed in some phases by their opponents.
The Netherlands will be playing Portugal on July 14, a team that came from behind to draw 2-2 with Switzerland in the same group, while Sweden play the Swiss.
Main image: screenshot courtesy Optus Sports.