Netherlands proved themselves the most exciting, mentally strong, and best side in Europe, thumping Denmark 4-2 to win their first major title in front of their home crowd in Enschede.
But they did not have things all their own way. On six minutes, Kika van Es' rash challenge on Sanne Troelsgaard handed Denmark a penalty, confidently dispatched by Nadia Nadim. Netherlands, though, were uncowed, and four minutes later, Shanice van de Sanden went down the right as she has done all tournament, and crossed with Vivianne Miedema to slot home.
Just before the half hour, the home nation took the lead, Lieke Martens - the player of the tournament - allowing Desiree van Lunteren's pass across her body before bundling a drive past Stina Lykke Petersen that really ought to have been saved. No one would have been surprised to see Denmark collapse at that point, but instead they grew, the wonderful Pernilla Harder leading a break from halfway to level matters with a fine solo goal.
In the second half, Netherlands were much tighter at the back, and they surged ahead on 51 minutes when their captain, Sherida Spitse, punched home a clever free-kick. And with Denmark pushing for an equaliser - Troelsgaard came close - Miedema sealed the win in the penultimate minute.
So, Netherlands are European champions, their perfect tournament record along with the football they played at clutch making them immediate greats of the game. And the bad news for the rest is that they have plenty of improving still to do. It will take a good team to stop them at the World Cup in 2019.
Mandy van den Berg of the Netherlands and Sherida Spitse
Image credit: Getty Images
How did Netherlands do it? It is not so much that they won but the way that they won. Netherlands were able to ride the shock of going behind early and having their lead quickly pegged back to overwhelm Denmark. Perhaps the spirit of their play - attacking and expressive - also allows them to do what they need to do without overthinking.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Sherida Spitse (Netherlands): Martens and Groenen played well, as did Miedema, but it was Spitse who scored the crucial goal at a crucial time, and who gave balance and balance in midfield.
Highlights: Netherlands turn on style to defeat Denmark in final
Netherlands: Veenendaal 6, Van Lunteren 6, Van der Gragt 6, Dekker 6, Van Es 6, Groenen 7, Van de Donk 6, Spitse 8, Van de Sanden 7, Miedema 8, Martens 8. Subs: Janssen 6, Jansen 6, Van den Berg 6.
Vivianne Miedema is 21 years old and has 44 goals in 57 international appearances.
Today's attendance, 28,182, is the record for a women's football match in Netherlands.
7' - GOAL! DENMARK 1-0 NETHERLANDS (NADIM P) That's definitely a penalty. Rash challenge from Van Es in the box as she takes out Troelsgaard. Nadim to take... SCORES!
Denmark take lead as Netherlands concede penalty after five minutes
GOAL! DENMARK 1-1 NETHERLANDS (MIEDEMA) And we're back level and it's all down to Van de Sanden. Groenen launches the ball over the top and Van de Sanden gets in behind before squaring the perfect ball to Miedema, who makes no mistake.
Miedema levels for Dutch
28’ - GOAL! Netherlands 2-1 Denmark (Martens) Denmark have two players out guarding Van de Sanden, who lays back for Van Lunteren to square for Martens, just outside the box. Allowing it across her body, which she also uses to keep the ball away from Kildemoes, she takes a couple of touches to swivel her into a left-footer which slides past Petersen. On the one hand, the keeper should've done better; on the other, the shot was hit at precisely the right moment.
Lieke Martens scores scorcher from outside box
30’ - Lovely from Troelsgaard, guiding a pass one side of Dekker for Nadim to run onto around the other. She should hit it immediately - a Beardsley scoop would've scored - but her decision to go around the keeper was a fair one. Except Veenendaal timed her dive and grab to perfection, poking the ball away brilliantly.
33’ - GOAL! Netherlands 2-2 Denmark (Harder) Pernilla Harder is so, so good! She hangs on halfway, right of centre, waiting for the ball in behind - and when it comes, it's a belter. She sprints onto it, races to the box, dips inside Dekker, and drills a perfect finish, Solskjaer-style, in at the near post with the keeper expecting one towards the far. Fantastic stuff!
Pernille Harder scores stunner to make it 2-2
37’ - Van Luteren allows long ball from Sorensen to bounce, and Veje is onto it! But as she pulls back her left foot - probably to miss, given her efforts so far in this competition - Van Luteren cleans her out. I've no idea what the ref thinks she saw, but that was a penalty.
51’ - GOAL! Netherlands 3-2 Denmark (Spitse) This is very cleverly done. Spitse punches a shot towards the bottom right as Dekker, on the edge of the wall, eases Kildemoes aside. In net, Petersen, who's set up her wall to cover the left of her goal, has takes a step in that direction herself, anticipating a shot over the top of it, such that when the ball comes at her the other way, she's out of the game.
Spitse free-kick gives Netherlands the lead
62’ - WHAT A SAVE PETERSEN! Martens goes down the left and swings over a superb cross with which Larsen does not deal. On theback post and on the volley, Miedema absolutely lamps a shot from six yards, but somehow Petersen spreads herself and deflects it high and away with her thigh. That was the competition right there.
85’ - The ball drops out of the air just outside the Netherlands box and Troelsgaard is underneath it, cracking an up-and-under of a volley which looks like it's destined for the top corner only to swerve wide at the last milisecond!
89’ - GOAL! NETHERLANDS 4-2 DENMARK (MIEDEMA) NETHERLANDS ARE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS! Spitse knocks a very nice pass in behind the Denmark defence and Miedema runs at Sanvej, who backs off and backs off. So Miedema nips inside and drills another Solskjaer finish inside the near post.