The Netherlands made a tense and tight encounter look easy with three late goals coming to give them a 4-1 win over Switzerland as they set up a thrilling encounter with one of the tournament favourites on Saturday night in Rotherham.
It was all to play for coming into the final evening in Group C with all four teams still mathematically in contention to progress through to the knockout stages. Coming into the match at Bramall Lane, Switzerland knew they had to win for any chance of progression while Holland just needed a point to progress to the Quarter Finals.
Switzerland named an unchanged side from the one that lost two one against Sweden last time out while Holland made two changes as Nouwen and Groenen were both declared fit so replaced Olislagers and Egurrola in defence and midfield respectively. The Dutch had hoped that Arsenal striker and global superstar, Vivianne Miedema would have recovered from COVID-19 but she wasn’t deemed fit enough to be involved against the Swiss.
Even though it was Holland who came into the tie as the favourites, it was Switzerland who troubled early on as Maendly forced a superb save out of van Domselaar in the Dutch goal with a stunning curling effort from twenty-five yards out which was tipped over brilliantly by the Dutch keeper.
However, as expected Holland grew into the match and they looked like they got a penalty after just twenty minutes as Beerensteyn darted in behind the Swiss defence and was brought down by Thalmann. The referee pointed to the point but after a referral with VAR, it concluded that the goalkeeper got a point on the ball first meaning that the on-field decision was overturned as the game remained goalless. That’s how the first half would finish as both sides looked nervous to over-commit which such high stakes on the line in Sheffield.
The Dutch came out looking the better side in the second half and just four minutes in had their reward as Van der Gragt got on the end of a corner which was attempted to be headed away by Crnogorecvic off the line but instead she turned it into the back of her own net to give the Euro 2017 winners the lead!
It took Switzerland just four minutes to respond as some lovely play by Bachmann advanced her into the penalty area where she pulled the ball across to Reuteler who slotted coolly into the bottom corner to make the game level once more. The game then went through another tense period as the Swiss pushed for a goal to take them through while Holland had to decide whether to go to win the game or settle for a point.
The Netherlands showed no sign of doing the latter as with just six minutes of normal time remaining, they edged in front as a looping Wilms cross brought the keeper out who failed to beat Leuchter in the air as she headed home the first international goal of her career. That goal had knocked the Swiss’ confidence as Holland attacked again as Pelova got on the end of a long-range free kick to poke home from close range as she all but sealed their place in the knockout stages.
Holland still had time to make a hard-fought contest look like a routine win as Leuchter added her second of the game when she got on the end of a scuffed shot to make a four one which sent Switzerland going home and the Dutch preparing for France.
The game sent a new record as 22,596 fans were in attendance which is a record for a European Championship group match not featuring the tournament hosts as the Dutch mainly showed their terrific support once again at a sporting event.
Netherlands boss Mark Parsons was clear about their intentions in the Quarter Finals as the reigning champions face one of the tournament favourites in France as he stated that “they will not want to play us”.
"France are a top opponent but so are we," said Netherlands boss Mark Parsons. "They will not want to play us. We see an opportunity."
Holland will now face France on Saturday evening at the New York Stadium in Rotherham for a place in the Semi-Finals while Switzerland will be on the flight home feeling rather unlucky as they were so close but yet so far from qualification into the last eight.