Netherlands Top Women's World Cup 2019 Group E After Narrow Win over Canada

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2019

(l-r) Lineth Beerensteyn of Netherlands women, Shanice van de Sanden of Netherlands women during the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019 group E match between The Netherlands and Canada at Stade Auguste-Delaune on June 20, 2019 in Reims, France(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

Lineth Beerensteyn came off the bench to score the winning goal for the Netherlands in their 2-1 success over Canada at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup on Thursday, sending them into the last 16 of the competition as winners of Group E. 

Canada were awarded a penalty early on at the Stade Auguste-Delaune II in Reims, only for a VAR review to determine the foul came outside the penalty area. The Netherlands went closest to opening the scoring before the break, as Vivianne Miedema rattled the post after an excellent turn.

The goals eventually came in the second period, with Anouk Dekker heading the Dutch in front after 54 minutes. Canada's veteran forward Christine Sinclair was on hand to level the scores on the hour mark.

However, it was to be the Netherlands' day, as Beerensteyn made an instant impact from the bench, turning home the Dutch's second from close range with 15 minutes remaining.

With the winner of this match guaranteed the top spot in Group E, Canada thought they had got off to the perfect start, as Janine Beckie was felled by Desiree van Lunteren inside a minute, prompting the referee to point to the spot. 

However, a VAR check deemed Beckie was outside the area when contact was made and a free-kick was awarded instead.

Per World Soccer Talk, in a tournament where VAR has received criticism, on this occasion it helped provide the right outcome: 

World Soccer Talk @worldsoccertalk

Awful decision by referee to start Netherlands vs Canada game. Certainly should not have been a penalty. VAR footage was inconclusive (minimal contact, if any). At least VAR saved the ref by ruling "foul" happened outside of box #NEDCAN

Both sides pressed relentlessly for much of the first period, meaning they each struggled to get into a rhythm in possession.

The one standout moment of quality came just before the break. Miedema spun away from her marker in the penalty area, burst into space and then hammered a shot across Stephanie Labbe, only to see the effort ricochet back off the upright.

In the second half, the supporters got the goals to match the action. It was the Dutch who edged ahead, as Sherida Spitse delivered an outstanding cross into the box, which Dekker was able to nod home from close range: 

Match of the Day @BBCMOTD

We have a breakthrough! Anouk Dekker with a lovely header to give #NED the lead. Watch LIVE on @BBCRedButton and online: https://t.co/uQ31NtXQBw #FIFAWWC #ChangeTheGame https://t.co/agdllOzsun

While the Dutch arguably deserved their lead, Canada weren't deflated by the opener. Within six minutes they were back on terms, with an unsurprising goalscorer making it 1-1.

Again, the delivery was pinpoint, with Jordyn Huitema's cross giving Sinclair the room to poke home her 182nd goal for Canada. The finish also took the 36-year-old to a World Cup landmark: 

B/R Football @brfootball

Christine Sinclair joins Marta as the only two players to score in FIVE World Cups 👏 https://t.co/tyMMlZjt1X

Following the equaliser, the Canadians were on the front foot and looked the more likely side to grab a winner. The introduction of Beerensteyn from the bench changed the course of the game in the Netherlands' favour though.

The winger was involved in the buildup to the winning goal, dancing infield and helping work the ball wide. The Bayern Munich star continued her run into the box, where she was able to convert Van Lunteren's low delivery.

Football journalist Tim Stillman noted that kind of penetration was overdue from the Dutch: 

Tim Stillman @Stillberto

Beerensteyn and Roord attacking that cross when it came in. Haven’t had enough of that from #NED.

With Canada needing to win the game to ensure they advanced as group winners, the second goal for the Dutch was enough to knock the momentum out of their play. Regardless of their defeat, they're still capable of making progress through the competition bracket.