Dutch dominate Ireland in European Championship opener
Some fine goalkeeping from Ayeisha McFerran keeps score down in Amsterdam
Dutch players celebrate a goal during the EuroHockey Championships Pool A match against Ireland at Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen. Photoghraph: Willem Vernes/EPA
Netherlands 4 Ireland 0
Four goals against but Ireland will be saying it was two goals better than the last time they met in the World Cup final against the Netherlands in their first match of the European Championships in Amsterdam.
A double from Laurien Leurink along with goals from Caia van Maasakker and Frédérique Matla did the damage for the world number one side and gold medal favourites.
Ireland had the early opportunity and it was Dutch goalkeeper Josine Koning forced to make the first save getting her face guard across to block from Ana O’Flanagan’s reverse flick from close in.
The Dutch then opened their account after nine minutes with the umpire judging Róisín Upton’s stick tackle on Laura Nunnink a penalty offence. Maasakker subsequently stepped up to put Irish goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran the wrong way for 1-0.
Just five minutes later Ireland were caught a little loose in the circle after a baseline run and pull back found Leurink. The Dutch striker needed just inches to nick the ball past McFerran for her first of the day.
Finding it difficult to hold possession and with heavy high-press pressure forcing Ireland into some loose passing, the Netherlands led the first quarter 2-0, their third goal coming on 25 minutes and from their third penalty corner.
This time Dutch striker Frederique Matla used raw power to drag the ball through McFerran’s legs for a 3-0 leads at half-time
Ireland almost kept a clean sheet in the third quarter and forced a few circle penetrations but the Dutch were entirely in control, their pressure paying off towards the end of the quarter, Leurink reacting quickest to a messy goalmouth scramble and 4-0.
While the World and European champions did not score in the final 15 minutes, McFerran was forced into a number of saves, the match ending two goals better off than in London in 2018 but Ireland again outclassed by the host nation.
NETHERLANDS: J Koning, M Pheninckx, L Leurink, M Keetels, C van Maasakker, F Matla, P Sanders, L Stam, M van Geffen, E de Goede, F Albers. Subs: S Koolen, M Verschoor, L Nunnink, S van Gils, I Kappelle, P Dicke, A Veenendaal.
IRELAND: A McFerran, R Upton, N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, N Carroll, H McLoughlin, L Holden, S Hawkshaw, A O’Flanagan. Subs: M Carey, M Frazer, C Watkins, N Daly, H Matthews, D Duke, L Murphy
Umpires: L Delforge (Bel), S Bockelmann (Ger).