Late drama sees Dutch, Germany into Women’s Nations League finals

By AFP
December 07, 2023

PARIS: Germany and the Netherlands booked their places at the Women’s Nations League finals, where they will also fight for spots at the 2024 Olympic Games, but there was heartbreak for England who miss out despite beating Scotland 6-0 on Tuesday.

The Germans drew 0-0 in Wales but secured their passage thanks to Iceland’s 1-0 win over Denmark. The Netherlands needed a 95th minute goal from Damaris Egurrola to see them to a 4-0 win over Belgium which meant they edged England on goal difference in Group A1 after the World Cup runners-up hammered the Scots in Glasgow.

The Dutch and the Germans will join France and world champions Spain in the semi-finals which take place in February. The two finalists will qualify for the 2024 Olympics. If France, who are guaranteed a place as hosts of Paris 2024, reach the final, the team winning the third-place play-off will also progress.

Netherlands' midfielder Damaris Egurrola celebrates after scoring two late goals. — AFP/File

England, who were hopeful of gaining an Olympic place for a Great Britain team which would have included their Scottish opponents, and the Netherlands went into the final round of games level on points but with the Dutch holding a two-goal advantage.

England quickly laid on the pressure, with Alex Greenwood and Beth Mead bracketing two goals in two minutes from Lauren James to give them a 4-0 half-time lead. The Dutch, meanwhile, were only leading 1-0 through a 34th minute goal from Lineth Beerensteyn.

The English compounded their position when Fran Kirby added a fifth four minutes into the second half. At that point, England had a two-goal advantage over the Dutch, but they then ran into some determined defence from the Scots who also went close, forcing a fine save from Mary Earps. Beerensteyn added a second to give the Dutch hope, but the evening changed dramatically in stoppage time.

First, Egurrola found the back of the net to give the Dutch the advantage. That was followed by Lucy Bronze scoring a sixth for England but, even as they were celebrating, Egurrola snatched a second in Tilburg to send the Netherlands through.

“(Coach) Sarina (Wiegman) made sure we knew what was happening, and we knew what we were supposed to do,” said England forward Mead. “We got the goals late on, we thought we had maybe gotten over the line but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.”