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2017: Lieke Martens

Published: Sunday 6 August 2017, 8.42CET
Scintillating wing play played no small part in the Netherlands' victory on home soil at UEFA Women's EURO 2017 – their inspiration down the left was player of the tournament Lieke Martens.
by Paul Saffer
2017: Lieke Martens
Lieke Martens ©Getty Images
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Published: Sunday 6 August 2017, 8.42CET

2017: Lieke Martens

Scintillating wing play played no small part in the Netherlands' victory on home soil at UEFA Women's EURO 2017 – their inspiration down the left was player of the tournament Lieke Martens.

They may have been hosts but the Netherlands were far from favourites for UEFA Women's EURO 2017.

Watch: Martens scores as Dutch win final

If Germany did not make it seven wins in a row, France were tipped to succeed them, or maybe Norway, Sweden or England. Instead, the Dutch lifted the trophy, winning all their six games in front of sell-out crowds, and left-winger Lieke Martens was key to their triumph.

Having joined Barcelona from Rosengård on the eve of the tournament, the 24-year-old already had a fine reputation, even scoring the Netherlands' first ever FIFA Women's World Cup finals goal in 2015. And she looked up for the challenge from the off in the 2017 finals, named player of the match in the opening 1-0 defeat of Norway in Utrecht as she set up Shanice van de Sanden's winner and generally wreaked havoc down her wing.

The next game, a 1-0 win against Denmark, was tougher, but Martens once again shone in the 2-1 defeat of Belgium, showing her full range of tricks and skills and scoring the winner with a deflected shot to earn another player of the match award.

Many thought the step up to playing 2016 Olympic silver-medallists Sweden might be too much for the Netherlands, but in fact their 2-0 win was the most convincing of the quarter-finals. Martens opened the scoring with a low free-kick and then started the move from which Vivianne Miedema made it two.

With Germany falling to Denmark in the last eight, many saw the semi-final between the Netherlands and England as a virtual title decider. Both had won all four games in the tournament so far, and in front of a Dutch women's record 27,093 crowd in Enschede, the hosts stormed to a 3-0 win, sealed when a Martens shot which was turned into her own goal by Millie Bright.

Watch: Martens free-kick helps beat Sweden

Martens had actually been kept relatively quiet by England, but in the final against Denmark she, and the Netherlands, were rampant to the delight of the 28,182 in attendance. An early Denmark lead had already been cancelled out when Martens put the hosts ahead with a brilliant swerving shot from the edge of the box that kept moving away from the reach of Stina Petersen but crept inside the post.

The Netherlands went on to win 4-2 with Martens continuing to dazzle with her brilliance down the left. UEFA's technical observers named her player of the tournament on the final whistle.

Reflecting on her new status, Martens said: "I felt good during the tournament and I did not expect to be crowned player of the tournament. Without my team-mates and backroom staff it would not have been possible so it is because of them that I am player of the tournament and I am grateful."

Last updated: 14/08/17 19.32CET

https://www.uefa.com/womenseuro/season=2017/golden-player/index.html#2017+lieke+martens