The Orange Lionesses looked like they were going to drop some valuable points in their World Cup qualifier against Slovakia. But well into extra time, Lieke Martens saved the day for the Dutch with a magnificent curling shot from the edge of the box.
The Group C match at Heerenveen's Abe Lenstra Stadium saw the return of Desiree van Lunteren and Stefanie van der Gragt in the starting line up, at the expense of Renate Jansen and Anouk Dekker. Playing her 150th cap, Sherida Spitse started in midfield. Jill Roord replaced Daniëlle van de Donk, who suffered a hamstring injury during the warm-up.
The changes may have impacted the Netherlands side, who dominated much of the game against bottom-of-the-table Slovakia, but failed to create any great chances. There were a few dangerous moments in front of the Slovakia goal, but goalkeeper Mária Korenčiová proved to be on good form.
With only a minor lead over their rivals Norway, the home team couldn't afford a draw and launched an all-out offensive at the end of the match. With Stefanie van der Gragt moving to centre-forward position, the Dutch ratcheted up the pressure. This paid off after regular playing time, with a characteristic Martens move, cutting in from the left to curl a right-footed effort into the far corner.
The 1-0 victory means that the Netherlands only need a draw in their final match in Oslo to secure their place in next year's World Cup finals as winners of Group C. But they'll need to improve on their performance to make it all happen.
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