Netherlands held by Sweden at start of Euros title defense

SHEFFIELD, England (AP) — With thousands of visiting of fans to impress, the Netherlands left coach Mark Parsons disappointed after conceding against Sweden at the start of the Women’s European Championship title defense.

It took Jill Roord’s goal on the turn in the 52nd minute to cancel out Jonna Andersson’s goal — only the third in 51 appearances for the Sweden wing back — to recover a 1-1 draw for the Netherlands in Group C on Saturday.

“It was tough but we got some good moments when we played some possession football,” Parsons said. “It wasn’t enough, the spaces were big, so it meant Viv (Miedema) and others had to make too much running. I was pretty disappointed with the goal.”

Improvement will be needed quickly with a meeting on Wednesday with Portugal, which recovered from conceding twice in the opening five minutes against Switzerland before staging a comeback in the second half to draw 2-2.

The Dutch will be assessing the injuries that disrupted the clash with Sweden, with goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal and defender Aniek Nouwen forced off.

Van Veenendaal flattened defenders Stefanie van der Gragt and Lynn Wilms while defending a free kick. The whistle ended Sweden’s ongoing attack with concern over Van der Gragt in particular. Van Veenendaal received attention in the aftermath and was forced off around 10 minutes later.

Lieke Martens and Roord failed to threaten with long-range efforts for the Netherlands before Sweden took the lead when Kosovare Asllani beat Nouwen and her low cross was finished by Andersson.

Lina Hurtig headed Andersson’s cross wide under pressure from Nouwen, who was injured in the process and replaced by Marisa Olislagers.

Sweden wasted opportunities to extend the lead before Roord made it eight goals in as many internationals.

Vivianne Miedem was the creator of the best chance of a Dutch winner, feeding former Arsenal teammate Roord whose hesitation allowed Magdalena Eriksson to make a goal-saving tackle.

The crowd at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane of 21,342 was the biggest for a Women’s European Championship game not involving a host nation.

There were 5,902 fans at the stadium in the northwest English town of Leigh where Portugal drew with Switzerland.

Portugal’s recovery was started in the 58th by Diana Gomes, who met the rebound after her initial header from a corner was saved by goalkeeper Gaëlle Thalmann.

The equalizer was grabbed in the 65th by Jéssica Silva meeting a cross from Tatiana Pinto, ensuring the early Swiss goals from Coumba Sow and Rahel Kiwic were wiped out.

“This is Portugal — a Portugal with soul, the fighting spirit,” Silva said. “The bravery shown was fantastic but unfortunately we couldn’t score more.”

Portugal coach Francisco Neto was delighted with the maturity shown by his players who secured a place in the 16-team tournament only after Russia was banned for invading Ukraine.

“Today was a proof of our growth as a team,” Neto said. “Perhaps a few years ago we would have panicked and conceded more goals and that didn’t happen today. Even when losing 2-0, the team kept tranquil, tried to reorganize, communicated and grew. That was the reason why we were competitive until the end.”

Portugal also plays the Netherlands in Leigh on Wednesday.

“If we play like we did in the second half, of course we can compete with them,” Silva said. “In the first minutes we were a bit too anxious but we reacted well, showed that we are a super-competitive Portugal that can match any team.”

Group D begins on Sunday when France plays Italy in Rotherham and Belgium faces Iceland in Manchester.

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