Netherlands women seal second place with hard-fought win over China

The first quarter finished goalless, although the Netherlands will look back on a couple of chances where they could have taken the lead. Some good work by Ping Liu in the China goal and less than perfect finishing by the Dutch forwards meant that the teams stayed at 0-0 going into the second half.

The breakthrough didn’t come until the final minutes of the second quarter. to that point, China had set up a defensive wall that the Dutch were just unable to find a way through. The goal was created and scored by Laurien Leurink. She picked the ball up on the edge of the China circle and then drove strongly into the circle before shooting. The presence of Lidewij Welten in front of the goal was enough to distract Ping and the Netherlands finally had a break.

At half-time China Head Coach Alyson Annan called for more courage to go forwards and her team answered within two minutes. Chen Yang was the beneficiary of some slick passing moves in the Dutch defensive quarter, which finally arrived to Chen Yang and she skilfully turned and shot past Josine Koning.

What followed was 20 plus minutes of obdurate Chinese defence as the entire team worked to get behind the ball and prevent any Dutch incursions into the danger areas. Eventually however, an interception by Felice Albers of an ambitious aerial out of defence, saw Albers slip the ball to Frederique Matla who picked out Maria Verschoor with a good pass. The midfielder made no mistake as she shot high into Ping’s goal.  

That was the final score of the game and Netherlands came away from the match with another three points but having faced a challenge in working out how to break down a stubborn and committed defence.

Player of the Match, Xan de Waard (NED) said: ‘It was weird playing our former coach. Today we were the better team, we had a lot of chances in the circle. We needed patience in attack and we were unlucky to concede a goal because they only had one shot on goal. Today we got or connections right with some long balls to out forwards, so that was good.’

The result means Netherlands are second in the FIH Pro League, eight points ahead of India. China remain in eighth place.