Dutch battle nerves before getting the better of New Zealand

Sports

LE HAVRE, France (Reuters) – Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman did not hold back after her side labored to a 1-0 win over New Zealand in their women’s World Cup opener on Tuesday, slamming players for “strolling” through the match in Le Havre.

Soccer Football – Women’s World Cup – Group E – New Zealand v Netherlands – Stade Oceane, Le Havre, France – June 11, 2019 New Zealand’s Erin Nayler and Ali Riley in action with Netherlands’ Lieke Martens REUTERS/Phil Noble

The European champions are among the favorites for the title but battled to break down a stubborn New Zealand defense, only securing victory when substitute Jill Roord headed home in stoppage time.

“We were sloppy, our ball tempo was too slow and our positional play was not very good,” was her verdict.

“I saw too many of our players strolling.”

Dominique Bloodworth, who missed an easy first half chance, said the occasion got to her.

“It was the biggest game of my career. The first tournament where I have been in the starting line-up,” she added.

“I was really nervous, but that shouldn’t mean you drop your playing standard. But it happened. It was not good enough. Luckily it can only get better.”

Roord said she was delighted to score her first goal for the national team since 2017.

“It’s bizarre that I achieved it, in stoppage time too,”she added. “I’ve had such a long drought for the side and to now get a decisive goal in a World Cup match. It’s something I had hoped for, for so long.”

The Dutch next face Cameroon in Valenciennes on Saturday before rounding out Group E against Canada.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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