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Draw tempers joy for forward-thinking Beristain

Naiara Beristain was ultimately disappointed despite a goalscoring introduction to this year's tournament for Spain, but is already looking ahead to Thursday's "final" against Germany.

Spain striker Naiara Beristain celebrates after breaking the deadlock in Forli
Spain striker Naiara Beristain celebrates after breaking the deadlock in Forli ©Sportsfile

There was an air of disenchantment around Naiara Beristain after Spain opened their Group B account with a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands, relief in avoiding a repeat of last year's loss to the Oranje clouded by a sense that it could have been more.

Beristain gave Ángel Vilda's side a dream start on 11 minutes, reacting first when Nagore Calderón's well-struck free-kick came back off the crossbar and coolly dispatching it beyond Laura du Ry. "It's always nice to score," said the 19-year-old, "but when the team doesn't win it doesn't matter so much; it doesn't carry so much value."

Indeed, after starting with a tempo not dissimilar to the techno that blasted from the players' stereos leading up to the game, Spain were pegged back at the start of the second period by Pia Rijsdijk. "We were on top in the first half, then we conceded and didn't really know to respond so overall these are two points lost," said Beristian.

"The [dry] conditions didn't really suit the Spanish game, didn't allow the ball to run on. It's not why we didn't win but it was a factor in why we didn't circulate the ball as well as we normally do. We have to assume there will be similar conditions [against Germany] on Thursday and adapt our game for what will be a final for us. In fact, we have two finals to play to get what we came here for."

The outlook could be brighter as Spain ended the game in Forli with real purpose, their 2-0 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship defeat by the Netherlands exactly a year before a distant memory. It took a brilliant block to deny Beristain's room-mate Olga García and Du Ry tipped a long-range Leire Fernández effort onto the bar. The best chance fell on 76 minutes for Beristain herself, though.

"I was running clear with the ball, with no one around from either team," the Basque striker explained. "I stalled, waiting for the goalkeeper to make her move before aiming towards the far post. But the goalkeeper got to it."

Did fatigue play a part, after a campaign that brought five goals in 24 Superliga appearances as her Athletic Club side just missed out on the title play-off? She shrugs off the suggestion. "I might be a bit tired but it's the same for almost all the players here," she said. "We don't have time to think about how we're feeling and what kind of condition we're in – the focus has to be on our final with Germany and getting what we need."