BREDA, Netherlands — The Netherlands beat England 3-0 Thursday to advance to the final of the Women’s European Championship on home soil, where it will meet Denmark, which beat Austria in a penalty shootout after a 0-0 draw.
Cheered on by a partisan crowd of just over 27,000 at the FC Twente Stadium in Enschede – the venue for Sunday’s final – the Dutch took an early lead, soaked up England pressure and capitalized on a blunder by one of England’s most experienced players to double its lead just after the hour mark. An own goal by Millie Bright with the final touch of the match completed the scoring.
Earlier in Breda, it was sixth time lucky for Denmark as the team beat Austria in a penalty shootout to advance to the final after losing all five of their previous semifinal appearances at the Euros. Goalkeeper Stina Lykke Petersen saved two penalties as Denmark convincingly won the shootout 3-0.
The Netherlands exploited its power down the flanks for the opening goal as Jackie Groenen delivered a pinpoint cross from the right in the 22nd minute and lanky striker Vivianne Miedema rose above the England defense to head back into the far corner for her second goal of the tournament.
The goal seemed to energize England and it nearly drew level almost immediately when Jade Moore’s long-range header beat goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal but was deflected onto the post by Sherida Spitse, who also made another late clearance off the line.
Two of the players expected to shine in the Enschede semifinal instead turned in subdued performances.
The Dutch defense largely neutralized England striker Jodie Taylor, the tournament’s top scorer with five goals, while England successfully reined in Barcelona winger Lieke Martens. When Taylor finally got a chance, in the 82nd minute, she fired her effort straight at Van Veenendaal.
The home team struck again in the 62nd minute when Danielle van de Donk pounced on a poor back header by midfielder Fara Williams and lobbed the ball over advancing goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain.
“This is indescribable,” Van de Donk told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “Nobody expected this; I am so proud.”
In the night’s first semifinal, Denmark was the more attacking of the two teams, but could find no way past Austria’s trademark defensive formation or goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger.
In a taste of things to come, Austria had the best chance of the match when Maja Kildemoes handled the ball in her penalty area in the 15th minute, but Sarah Puntigam blasted the spot kick high over the bar.
The sloppy finishing from the spot was in stark contrast to Austria’s penalties in the quarterfinal, when it beat Spain 5-3 in a shootout.
Denmark beat European powerhouse Germany 2-1 in the quarterfinals, ending the German bid to win the tournament for the seventh time in a row and ninth time overall.
Only three teams have won the women’s European Championships – Germany, Norway and Sweden – and none of them reached the semifinals in the Netherlands.