The Netherlands progressed from Group C to a quarter-final against France despite a swashbuckling display from Switzerland.
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The Netherlands' UEFA Women's EURO title defence will continue to a Saturday quarter-final against France despite Switzerland so nearly deposing the holders in a thrilling Group C decider in Sheffield, settled only by three late goals combined by substitutes Romée Leuchter and Victoria Pelova.
13' Maendly forces Van Domselaar save
49' Crnogorčević turns in Van der Gragt header
53' Reuteler equalises
54' Van Domselaar twice denies Sow
84' Leuchter puts Netherlands ahead
90+4' Pelova strikes
90+5' Leuchter scores again
Match in brief: Dutch relief
Victory was a necessity for Switzerland to overtake the Netherlands and they began strongly. Ramona Bachmann's clever touch set up Sandy Maendly for a jinking run and long-range curling shot that Daphne van Domselaar did well to tip away.
Soon the Netherlands responded. Lineth Beerensteyn, continuing to lead the Netherlands line in the illness absence of Vivianne Miedema (though Aniek Nouwen and Jackie Groenen did return), lost her footing when bursting through. Then a clever low Sherida Spitse free-kick was played back to Jackie Groenen, who forced Gaëlle Thalmann to save.
At the other end Bachmann's teasing cross was met by Géraldine Reuteler but Van Domselaar dived to stop the header, and with Sweden stretching their lead against Portugal, Switzerland went in at half-time knowing a win would definitely be enough, and achievable on the game so far.
However, just four minutes into the second half a deep Spitse corner was met by Stefanie van der Gragt, and the diving Ana-Maria Crnogorčević, attempting to block, could only head the ball into the net. Four minutes after that, though, Bachmann burst through on the left and cut back for Reuteler to force in the equaliser.
Shortly after another super Bachmann run set up via Reuteler a chance for Coumba Sow that somehow Van Domselaar blocked with her face before turning a follow-up on to the post. Van Domselaar – winning only her fourth cap, having only had one before replacing injured Sari van Veendenaal last week here against Sweden – continued to be busy.
Netherlands substitute Pelova made Thalmann work and with seven minutes left another replacement, Leuchter, rose high to loop in a header from Lynn Wilms' cross. Somehow Esmee Brugts hit the inside of the post when perfectly placed to settle matters but in added time there were two more goals. First Pelova rose to nod in after a loose back-header by a Switzerland defender, then Leuchter was played through and calmly finished.
With Sweden winning 5-0, and despite Mark Parsons still urging his side forward, Netherlands finished second in Group C, meaning a quarter-final showdown with Group D winners France in Rotherham. Switzerland, just as on debut in 2017, fell agonisingly short, whatever the scoreline suggests.
Player of the Match: Sherida Spitse (Netherlands)
"Leader of the midfield and the whole team, keeping control in the middle and providing creative passing. Excellent overall performance in a crucial game."
UEFA Technical Observer panel
Judith Tuffentsammer, Switzerland reporter
This is a tough defeat to swallow for Switzerland, who bow out. They gave absolutely everything, dominating play for large parts of the match and once again showcasing their capacity to bounce back after going behind. But in the end, they were unable to capitalise on any of their numerous other chances, while the Netherlands were brutally efficient and scored three late goals to win and send the Swiss home.
Derek Brookman, Netherlands reporter
Well, they made it into the knockout stages, but it was tight. The Dutch were second best for most of the match, and had to thank Van Domselaar for a series of tremendous saves. It was only towards the end, when the Swiss pushed more bodies forward, that the defending champions consistently created chances, but they had to wait some time before Leuchter finally converted. France await: improvement is drastically required.
Mark Parsons, Netherlands coach: "What a great evening for us! It was a very tough game; Switzerland were fighting for their lives, we were fighting to top the group. It makes it fun and entertaining, but we kept calm. We saw some nerves at 1-1. But the players who came on changed the game. They gave us a lot of quality and energy and that's happened in every game so far. We're very happy with who's starting, and we're very happy with who's finishing.
"We're playing a big opponent [France in Saturday's quarter-final], and so are they. I don't think they want to play us. [The last time we met], the result wasn't what we wanted, but we said that that the next time we played them, we were confident that we would be better. We saw opportunity."
Nils Nielsen, Switzerland coach: "It was a good football game, with both teams trying to win and then it becomes an interesting match. In the end, we had the chance to go 2-1 up and that could have made it really interesting for us in the last minutes. But instead we had to go all in and see if we could score, and then the Netherlands got a lot of chances in the end.
"The tournament is over for us now, we have to say goodbye to some of the older players tonight who announced they're going to stop. Despite the disappointment of not making the quarter-final, we're going to have a little celebration tonight with them because they've been with the team for many years. That's actually what I'm thinking about right now."
Sherida Spitse, Visa Player of the Match: "I am really proud of the whole team and how we have done in the group. It makes us so strong that not only the first XI but all the players who have come in, what kind of energy they bring to us."
Daphne van Domselaar, Netherlands goalkeeper: “The adrenaline levels are beginning to subside again. I've just been jumping and dancing on the pitch, which helps! I'm really happy that I could make a couple of important saves. And then that the girls knocked in three more goals at the other end. Fantastic!"
Stefanie van der Gragt, Netherlands defender: "It was a hectic game in which we scored a few at the end. At some point we were even going for first spot in the group, but we didn't manage it. Nonetheless, we're delighted to be in the quarter-finals. We heard that Sweden were winning 4-0, so towards the end I went up front to see if that would help us get a couple more goals. But hey – we're proud to have reached the quarter finals, and we'll give everything we have on Saturday."
Gaëlle Thalmann, Switzerland goalkeeper: "I'm not feeling good – we lost, we are out. We're all disappointed about the result, about not reaching the quarter-finals. The performance was good, but not good enough. I'm quite proud of the team about the reaction we had after the first game. The mentality, the mindset was good, that's how we have to play every time. If we do that, we have a really bright future."
- Netherlands avoided becoming the first defending champions to go out in the group stage or before the last eight.
- Spitse's 205th cap moved her outright fifth in the list of all-time international appearances by European.
- The 22,596 crowd at Bramall Lane was a new record for a Women's EURO game outside the final not involving the hosts, beating a mark set eight days ago here by Netherlands vs Sweden.
Switzerland: Thalmann; Maritz, Calligaris, Bühler (Kiwic 57), Aigbogun (Stierli 58); Wälti (Mauron 83), Maendly (Fölmli 58); Crnogorčević, Sow (Xhemaili 72), Reuteler; Bachmann
Netherlands: Van Domselaar; Wilms, Van der Gragt, Nouwen (Casparij 64), Janssen; Groenen, Roord (Pelova 64), Spitse; Van de Donk (Eguerrola 90+6), Beerensteyn (Leuchter 74), Martens (Brugts 74)
Netherlands face the Group D winners France in the Rotherham quarter-final on Saturday, with a Milton Keynes semi against Germany or Austria the prize.
Switzerland return to action in the first week of September with their decisive 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers away to Croatia and at home to Moldova; they trail Italy by two points in the race for automatic qualification, but are three clear of Romania in the play-off slot.