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Stephanie van der Graat of the Netherlands celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal against Portugal in Dunedin.
At Dunedin Stadium: Holland 1 (Stephanie van der Gracht 13′) Portugal 0. HT: 1-0.
Group E points (Matches played): USA 3 (1), Netherlands 3 (1), Portugal 0 (1), Vietnam 0 (1).
The Netherlands should be on track to reach the knockout stages with an important 1-0 victory over Portugal.
A VAR-assisted goal from centre-half Stephanie van der Graat in front of a Dunedin crowd of 11,991 was enough to take the three points, but it could have paid a price as star striker Reins Behlenstein was sent off with a late injury in what was an occasional volatile game.
The ninth-ranked Netherlands have beaten Portugal in four of their last five games, including a 3-2 victory at last year’s European Championship.
After a shaky start, the Netherlands took the lead in the 13th minute when van der Graat headed in from a corner kick.
The goal was initially disallowed after the assistant referee found Dutch No. 6 Gilles Ruhrd in an offside position, but after a VAR review, referee Katerina Monzl awarded the goal.
Andreas Jonker’s side had regained their composure from an early lead and should have led 2-0 by midway through the first half, but Rould failed to head off another corner kick.
Despite great touches from midfielder Andreia Norton, Portugal struggled to enter the game and Monzur’s repeated penalties in a tough first half showed Portugal’s frustration.
Portugal also struggled after conceding goals from Juventus striker Behlenstein and had chances to lead the Netherlands 2-0 before the break, but their shots were denied.
The Netherlands had to settle for a 1-0 lead at halftime, but the advantage was well deserved.
The game entered the second half and within minutes of the restart both teams had their chances.
Experienced Daniel van de Donk should have scored 34 goals for the Netherlands, but he scored after a direct hit on Portuguese goalkeeper Ines Pereira.
Once again, it’s clear that Behrenstein was the man who created the opportunity and the 26-year-old is central to the Dutch hopes at this tournament.
However, with five minutes remaining, she collapsed in agony after a fierce challenge from Diana Gomez. Gomez was cautioned and Behrenstein limped off the field, overshadowing her victory.
At the other end, Jessica Silva’s rush started to cause problems, but she often lacked support against the Dutch 3-5-2 system.
Silva also booked a challenge, highlighting the desperation of both teams to secure a win in Group E.
The Netherlands will face the USA in a head-to-head match in Wellington on Thursday, while Portugal will play Vietnam in Hamilton later that day.
However, the United States’ advance to the quarter-finals was a strong contender, and the Netherlands and Portugal were effectively competing for the right to participate in Dunedin.
As the second half progressed, Portugal began to hold more of the ball on the right side of the field.
Substitute Thelma Encarnaon created a chance by breaking down the right flank, but goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar met the challenge.
Goalscorer van der Graat also played an admirable defensive role as the Netherlands scored an important victory and brought the orange-clad fans home in good spirits.
https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/fifa-womens-world-cup-2023/132601716/fifa-womens-world-cup-netherlands-beat-portugal-in-physical-group-e-encounter.html FIFA Women’s World Cup: Netherlands beat Portugal in Group E physical match