“It was a great match,” said Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman after her team beat Denmark 4-2 in the final of Euro 2017 on Sunday. “Now we’re going to party really hard.”
Correct on all counts. Finals are often staid affairs, a battle of who cracks first in the struggle to not make any mistakes, but this time the denouement of what’s been a pretty good tournament was a ripper, a six-goal thriller that started with a bang and just kept going. Nadia Nadim gave the Danes the lead after just six minutes, Vivianne Miedema equalised seven minutes later, then the Dutch took the lead in through Lieke Mertens just before the half-hour mark, only for Denmark to equalise through Pernilla Harder a few minutes later.
Highlights: Netherlands turn on style to defeat Denmark in final
It was 2-2 after 33 minutes and things calmed down a little after that, but the Dutch hosts took control in the second half, as Sherida Spitse scored a neat free-kick then Miedema confirmed the victory with a goal in the last minute.
“This is a fantastic achievement,” said Wiegman. ”We have all achieved this together. There was a great click in the group between the players and backroom staff. This is fantastic. We have to let this sink in.” And presumably shortly after that, they headed out on the town.
Arsenal win glorified pre-season friendly
Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal and Per Mertesacker of Arsenal
Image credit: Getty Images
Not that The Warm-Up wishes to take anything away from Arsenal, who won the seventh Community Shield of Arsene Wenger’s tenure at Wembley on Sunday, but are the days of this ‘traditional curtain-raiser’ numbered? Or should we at least think about jazzing things up a little bit?
The game itself was actually fine. Not great, not terrible, punctuated by a couple of decent goals: Victor Moses found 10 yards of space in the Arsenal penalty area before he neatly controlled and gave Chelsea the lead, before the wall of muscle that is Sead Kolasinac equalised for the Gunners.
We then had the always enjoyable spectacle of a penalty shoot-out, given further pizazz when Thibaut Courtois stepped up to take Chelsea’s second kick, and only succeeded in hoying it miles over the bar. Alvaro Morata also missed, so Olivier Giroud stepped up to win the Shield for Arsenal.
But watching the game the ever-present feeling that this is an entirely meaningless game, played out on an excessively big stage, was there in the back of your mind. There was no significant benefit to this victory for Arsenal, no real detriment to Chelsea for losing. And if that’s not the point of football, of sport, then what is?
So how can we make the Community Shield more relevant? You can’t give the winners a European spot, because by definition they’ve already qualified for some form of continental competition, beefing up the prize money doesn’t help a great deal and rather negates the whole charitable purpose of the affair – this year, money was raised for Grenfell.
Maybe the thing to do is for people to just ignore it. To not take it quite so seriously and watch something else on the last weekend before the new Premier League season begins. Whatever: proper, competitive domestic football needs to start, pronto.
Burnley friendly called off after crowd trouble
Still, some people do take friendlies quite seriously. Burnley were due to play Hannover in a final pre-season tune-up on Saturday. Unless The Warm-Up has missed something, these are not two age-old enemies, competing for the honour of their fathers and having a history of violent battles between them.
Hannover 96 gegen FC Burnley
Image credit: Getty Images
But a police officer and two stewards were injured as fans of the two sides clashed at Turf Moor, causing the game to be abandoned at half-time. “They called us in and said: ‘Look, we’re going to call it off for the safety of all involved, stewards, fans, police etc,’” said Burnley boss Sean Dyche, who given that he looks like a Wetherspoons bouncer, might have been useful in the ruck. “That was pretty early. The police were in the referee’s room, called me, went through the procedure, and obviously we fully support the police’s decision.”
The hurt trio are largely fine: some cuts and bruises, and a quite nasty-sounding dislocated shoulder, but that’s not really the point. If a pre-season friendly is abandoned because two sets of lads simply can’t stop themselves from trying to belt each other, then surely this is a sign that we’re taking football far, far too seriously.
IN OTHER NEWS
Well, isn’t this lovely.
HEROES AND ZEROS
Hero: Leonid Slutsky
Leonid Slutsky (twitter.com/HullCity)
Image credit: Twitter
The move of former Russia and CSKA Moscow manager Leonid Slutsky, whose playing career famously ended after he fell out of a tree trying to rescue a cat, has been a slightly under the radar one this summer. The new Hull manager took charge of his first game at the weekend, and from this we can deduce that he is going to be Good Value. Slutsky said that being in Hull he was living a “fairytale”, something even the Housemartins might struggle to agree with, and when asked why he spent his team’s pre-match warm-up pacing up and down the touchline, looking worried and politely turning down the offer of some chips from a young fan, he said he was being a “shaman”, trying to sprinkle magic on the turf. We’re going to enjoy him.
Zero: Nelson Oliveira
We think Norwich striker Nelson Oliveira was trying to make a subtle point to new manager Daniel Farke after the substitute scored a late equaliser on Saturday. Nelson, when even your own team-mates are telling you to knock it on the head, it’s probably time to stop.
The Manchester United and Spain midfielder is committed to contributing 1% of his salary to a collective fund called Common Goal run by streetfootballworld, a group of 120 charities in 80 countries. The rest of his starting XI will do the same. He aspires for others to choose to join in, until such a point as they do not even have to choose, it becomes part of the system: “a voluntary act ends up built into the structure of the game, something that’s there at all levels,” he says. “If Fifa and Uefa embrace it, that would be great.
These hats are usually directed towards the journalist only, but while Sid Lowe has of course written a fine piece, the real credit goes to lovely, lovely Juan Mata.
The big problem with American sports is that they don’t appreciate the joy of the draw. And their insistence on one team winning every game means they miss out on things like Westerlo 6-6 Genk, the (equal) world record for a draw, set on this day in 1999. Enjoy.
Nothing much tonight. Just a time to sit back, enjoy that football has returned to our lives, and contemplate the long slog that will be the next nine or 10 months.
Tomorrow’s Warm-Up will be brought to you by some bloke called Nick Miller.