Kitty van Male grabbed a 59th minute winning goal to ensure reigning champions the Netherlands continue their perfect start to the competition, copper-fastening a place in the quarter-finals.
Van Male’s goal secured a 1-0 win over China in which the Asian side did not manage a single shot as the Dutch pushed for a goal and eventually got their reward.
After two big wins over Spain and Korea, van Male said this different challenge was “good for the confidence to know that you can score in the last minute of the tie to win it.”
“It was not frustrating but it was difficult. We had to keep going, pass, pass, pass, pass, to make our own space which was very tough for us. It was good to have this different tactical challenge. You have to be sharp every single match and New Zealand and Germany are very good so it was good for us to have a tough match [before we play them].”
Naomi van As added that “it was a big relief” to get the goal.
“In the first half, we gave them a little bit too much space so they could turn out of their defence. In the second half, we were more on it and were like a different team.
“Eventually, we deserved to win but needed to get the goal. For that, we waited a really long time. It’s so good when it eventually goes in and we are on the good side of the story.”
Van As said that there is magical formula for success, quoting her coach Alyson Annan’s mantra: “it’s not hocus-pocus, it’s focus-focus”.
“The lesson from the first half was that we need to defend closer to the player, not giving them too much space.
“New Zealand will be a totally different team; they will play more open with a lot of speed, a lot of handy players and there will be more space for everybody.”
Finally, Eva de Goede said it was a deserved victory. “Super relieved, I think we deserved the goal in the end. It was super tough to play and they defended really well. We weren’t frustrated but we do love to attack. They make it hard, defending their 23, making it tough to get through.
“But it’s a complement to us that we got through. We are playing well, beating Spain 5-0 and Korea 4-0 so they saw they would need to defend to have a chance but we are happy with the win!”