The Netherlands didn't exactly sail smoothly through their first-ever Women's World Cup game, but they'll be perfectly happy with the end result and the goal that clinched it. They struggled through a close match with New Zealand, but Lieke Martens' wondergoal was the difference.
Not much happened in the opening minutes until this fantastic goal, curled by Martens past a hopeless Erin Nayler.
And Lieke Martens' goal stands as the Netherlands defeat New Zealand, 1-0, in their Women's World Cup debut. pic.twitter.com/J4Zp6HFBFc— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) June 7, 2015
Up until that point, New Zealand had a bit more of the ball and had been dealing with the Oranje's direct attacks well, but there was nothing they could do to stop the one goal that went in.
As the match progressed in the second half, the Netherlands got more defensive, putting less pressure on New Zealand high up the pitch and committing fewer numbers forward. Their back line was excellent, preventing the Ferns from getting the crosses in that they wanted to play and easily clearing the ones that New Zealand was able to play into the box.
Hannah Wilkinson was unlucky not to win a penalty when she was hacked down in the box in the dying minutes, but the referee waved play on. The Ferns never got a better chance, with the Netherlands keeping them from getting off any quality shots.
New Zealand moves on to play Canada, where they'll feel like they need to get a draw to have a good chance of advancing to the knockout stage. The Netherlands play China, and can take control of the group if they can pull off a big win. They won't try to pass through China's organized midfield like Canada did, and might have some success playing directly over the top. They'll have to get more out of superstar striker Vivianne Miedema, who was ineffective in this match.
Netherlands: Geurts, van Lunteren, van der Gragt, van den Berg, Hogewoning, Dekker (Middag 84'), Spitse, van de Donk, Martens (van de Ven 90'), Miedema (van de Sanden 82'), Melis
Goals: Martens (33')
New Zealand: Nayler, Percival, Erceg, Stott, Riley, Duncan, Bowen (Hassett 72'), Longo, Gregorius (Pereira 67'), Hearn, Wilkinson