SHEFFIELD (AFP) – Holders the Netherlands held off a stirring fightback by Portugal to close in on a place in the Euro 2022 quarter-finals with a 3-2 win over Portugal, while Sweden struck late to beat Switzerland 2-1 on Wednesday (July 13).
The Dutch were without star striker Vivianne Miedema due to a positive case for coronavirus, but got off to a flying start in Leigh as Damaris Egurrola and Stefanie van der Gragt struck inside the first 16 minutes.
Portugal would not even be at the tournament had it not been for Russia’s explusion due to the invasion of Ukraine, but for the second time in as many games they bounced back from a 2-0 deficit.
Carole Costa’s penalty reduced the arrears before half-time and Diana Silva’s thumping header levelled two minutes into the second half.
The Netherlands thought they had immediately struck back when Jill Roord’s goal was ruled out by a VAR check for offside.
But Mark Parsons’ side did dig themselves out of trouble just after the hour mark when Danielle Van de Donk’s stunning strike from outside the box arrowed into the top corner.
Victory takes the Netherlands top of Group C, level on four points with the Swedes, with both sides just needing a point from their final group game to progress.
Ranked second in the world, Sweden were among the pre-tournament favourites but have so far struggled to hit top gear in England.
After a 1-1 draw to open their campaign against the Netherlands, the Olympic silver medallists were expected to roll over a Swiss side ranked 20th in the world.
Switzerland’s preparations had also been rocked by a sickness bug in the camp that forced them to cancel training on Monday.
But they frustrated Peter Gerhardsson’s women for 53 minutes at Bramall Lane before Barcelona’s Fridolina Rolfo finished off an excellent team move.
Switzerland hit back within two minutes through a fine finish by Paris Saint-Germain’s Ramona Bachmann.
Gerhardsson was forced to turn to his bench for inspiration and it was one of his subs, Hanna Bennison, who scored the winner, with her first international goal 11 minutes from time.
“There are many things we can do better but right now I’m just very happy that we won the match and are in a good position to take us beyond the group stage,” said Gerhardsson.
Switzerland and Portugal now need to win in the final games of Group C on Sunday to have any chance of progessing to the last eight.