The Orange Lionesses have failed to crown their successful year with a victory against Ireland. The Netherlands were by far the better side before a capacity crown in Nijmegen on Tuesday, but the European champions failed to convert the many chances they created into goals. The World Cup qualifier ended in a goalless draw.
The Irish women put up a solid defensive blockade, sticking 10 players behind the ball. The tactic proved effective, as the visitors gave little away in the face of a sustained orange offensive.
Stefanie van der Gragt, who scored a brace against Slovakia on Friday, almost netted again from a corner kick in the 10th minute, but saw her header blocked on the goalline. The hosts tried from further afield, but their long-distance strikes and volleys failed to end up in the back of the net, much to the credit of Irish goalkeeper Marie Hourihan.
Netherlands star striker Vivianne Miedema came closest to opening the score when she hit the post five minutes after the break. The Dutch then ratcheted up the pressure by bringing on a midfielder, Renate Jansen, for defender Desiree van Lunteren, but this was to no avail. Ireland managed to nullify the attacking prowess of the Dutch and kept a clean sheet.
Tuesday’s draw ended an unprecedented run of eleven Netherlands victories. The Orange Lionesses will continue their World Cup qualifying campaign in April with a home game against Northern Ireland.
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