Monday 07 August 2017, 10:49

Changing of the guard in Europe as Netherlands triumph

  • Netherlands succeed Germany as European champions

  • Debutants Austria shine on the international stage

  • Lieke Martens (Netherlands) named best player of the tournament

If there is one conclusion to be drawn from the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 in the Netherlands that ended on Sunday, it is that the balance of power in Europe has now shifted. After many years of dominating the continental championships and winning the title on six consecutive occasions, Germany’s reign has finally come to an end. For the first time in 22 years, a UEFA Women’s EURO final was contested without German involvement as hosts the Netherlands defeated Denmark 4-2 in front of a home crowd to be crowned queens of European football for the first time.

The Oranje Leeuwinnen triumphed in this competition at the third attempt after reaching the semi-finals in Finland in 2009 and failing to progress past the group stage in Sweden four years ago, having failed to qualify for any previous editions of the Women’s EUROs.

Sarina Wiegman’s side impressed in the opening round by being the only team apart from England to win all three group matches, defeating both Norway and Denmark 1-0 and beating Belgium 2-1. The hosts continued their remarkable run in the knockout stages, overcoming Sweden 2-0 and England 3-0 on their way to the final.

Having already met the eventual European champions in the group stages, finalists Denmark reached the last eight as group runners-up with six points. Coach Nils Nielsen’s charges caused a sensation in the quarter-finals by dispatching favourites Germany 2-1 before overcoming Austria 3-0 on penalties in the semi-final.

Austria make impressive debut Austria made history on two fronts at this year’s tournament by not only appearing at their first Women’s EURO but also by reaching the last four on their debut. After winning their group and forcing France into second place, coach Dominik Thalhammer’s side defeated Spain in the quarter-finals before reaching the end of their journey in the next round. The Austrians can draw inspiration from their remarkable performances when FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 qualification begins in a few weeks time.

"It’s so tough to exit the competition so close to the final,” said Thalhammer after the defeat to Denmark. “We weren’t confident about our penalties today, and it’s difficult to say why. Nevertheless, we can be very proud of ourselves. We’ve achieved something sensational, but right now it understandably hurts a little. We’ll start to process it all tomorrow."

Title favourites disappoint Despite travelling to the Netherlands as overwhelming favourites after lifting their sixth successive trophy – and eighth overall – at Sweden 2013, Germany ultimately fell short of those expectations. They began their campaign with a goalless draw against Sweden and narrow 2-1 and 2-0 wins over Italy and Russia respectively before an early exit to Denmark in the last eight brought an end to their dominance on the European stage.

The quarter-finals also marked the end of the road for France, placed third in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking, and Olympic silver medallists Sweden. Les Bleues were beaten 1-0 by England in their first defeat by the Lionesses in 43 years, while Sweden lost to hosts and eventual European champions the Netherlands.

Participants: Austria (debut), Belgium (debut), Denmark, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands (hosts), Norway, Portugal (debut), Russia, Scotland (debut), Spain, Sweden, Switzerland (debut)

The final Netherlands 4-2 Denmark Goals: 0-1 Nadia Nadim (6’), 1-1 Vivianne Miedema (10’), 2-1 Lieke Martens (28’), 2-2 Pernille Harder (33’), 3-2 Sherida Spitse (51’), 4-2 Vivianne Miedema (89’)

Stadiums and cities Stadion Rat Verlegh (Breda), Stadion De Adelaarshorst (Deventer), Stadion De Vijverberg (Doetinchem), FC Twente Stadion (Enschede), Stadion Sparta-Het Kasteel (Rotterdam), Stadion Koning Willem II (Tilburg), Stadion Galgenwaard (Utrecht)