Defender Stefanie van der Gragt scored the only goal as 2019 runners-up the Netherlands beat debutants Portugal 1-0 in its opening game at the Women’s World Cup on Sunday.
Van der Gragt’s early header was given following a VAR check after initially being disallowed for offside and the Dutch held on in a Group E contest played under a closed roof in Dunedin.
The win sets the Netherlands up nicely for a mouthwatering showdown on Thursday with holders the United States, which beat it 2-0 in the final in France four years ago.
The Dutch no longer appear to be the force they were in 2019, with influential coach Sarina Wiegman having departed to take the England job and prolific striker Vivianne Miedema missing the World Cup as she recovers from a knee injury.
However, new coach Andries Jonker named a line-up that featured seven players who started the 2019 final, plus new Manchester City recruit Jill Roord, who came off the bench in that match.
And it was one of its most experienced players who got the only goal in the 13th minute in front of a crowd of nearly 12,000.
Centre-back Van der Gragt, who has over 100 caps, got up to powerfully head a Sherida Spitse corner beyond Portugal goalkeeper Ines Pereira.
The assistant referee’s flag came up for an offside against Roord, who was standing just in front of the line, but a review confirmed that she was not obstructing Pereira and the goal was given.
Portugal, which came through the play-offs to qualify for its first World Cup, struggled to create chances with substitute Telma Encarnacao producing its first shot on target in the 82nd minute.
The Netherlands saw Danielle van de Donk come close early in the second half.
But it suffered a blow as forward Lineth Beerensteyn came off with a knock late on.
It will hope she recovers in time to face the USA, while Portugal will hope to get its first World Cup victory when it plays Vietnam - beaten 3-0 by the Americans on Saturday -- next.
- Brazil will stay true to identity against Messi’s Argentina, says coach Diniz
- West Indies squad for England ODIs: Holder, Pooran out; Uncapped Rutherford, Forde included
- World Cup qualifiers: Ivory Coast wins again as away teams hold sway
- Mendy sues Man City over unpaid wages after rape charges
- Czech Republic qualifies for Euro 2024 with Moldova win but coach resigns