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Vaxjo proud after record opening night

Germany's Lena Goessling and the Netherlands' Anouk Hoogendijk both had words of praise for the organisers after playing in front of a record crowd at the Växjö Arena on Thursday.

The Netherlands and Germany were watched by a record crowd in Vaxjo
The Netherlands and Germany were watched by a record crowd in Vaxjo ©AFP/Getty Images

The opening-night nerves were not limited to the pitch as reigning champions Germany stepped out to face the Netherlands in Group B at the Växjö Arena for the cosy stadium's debut at UEFA Women's EURO 2013.

A goalless draw ultimately left both sides with regrets and disappointment, but the record crowd of 8,861 – the biggest at a UEFA Women's EURO finals game outside of those involving the host nation or the title-decider itself – did at least bring a smile to the face of Germany midfielder Lena Goessling.

"I enjoyed playing in this stadium; there was a good atmosphere," the VfL Wolfsburg player, who will face Iceland at the same venue on Sunday, told UEFA.com. "I think the size was perfect for a UEFA Women's EURO game."

Her thoughts were echoed by Dutch counterpart Anouk Hoogendijk, who said: "The atmosphere was really good. We liked the stadium, and the whole atmosphere was perfect for us, as was the pitch. There were a lot of Dutch people cheering in the stands. That helped a lot."

The vociferous contingent of orange-clad supporters brought an added dash of colour while those backing their opponents, and Swedish families who had merely come along to enjoy the game, provided a fitting supporting cast to the stars on the pitch.

The summer sunshine which bathed the stadium before kick-off enhanced the spectacle, and was almost as bright as the beaming faces among those whose meticulous, months-long preparations at the venue – which will host three group stage games and a quarter-final – finally came to fruition.

"It was beyond all expectations. The local organisation has worked hard to create a real football party for the opening game and we were rewarded," said Anna Sjödahl, local project manager for the tournament in Vaxjo, where the crowd far exceeded the previous best of 6,600, who watched Italy play Norway in Germany in 2001.

"The support from the local population and also from our visitors from Holland and Germany really helped to create a fantastic atmosphere, not just in the arena but also in the Fan Zone in the city centre earlier.

"The UEFA Women's EURO in Vaxjo could not have had a better start. We hope that this feeling will remain and encourage people to come and see the coming matches."