DE LUTTE, Netherlands: The women’s Euro semifinals rout of England sparked new confidence in the Netherlands team as it braces for Sunday’s (Monday in Mnaila) finals against Denmark, said striker Lieke Martens.
A crowd of more than 27,000 people watched the hosts sweep England 3-0 at Enschede on Thursday on the way to their first-ever Euro final.
“We are the best team now, I think we have played really well,” Martens told AFP at the Dutch training center in the eastern town of De Lutte a day after the clash of two teams with a perfect record at the tournament.
“But we have won anything yet. We’re going to do everything to win the title,” added the 24-year-old left winger who signed with FC Barcelona from Sweden’s Rosengard just before the tournament.
Martens has scored twice so far at the Euro tournament, and her stoppage-time shot on Thursday ended up in the goal as well after being deflected by England sweeper Millie Bright.
“It’s so amazing, we have fought so hard for it and it’s just a team effort, we have been practicing, working so hard for a couple of years,” Martens said.
Denmark are waiting in the final, also their first, after seeing off Euro newcomers Austria 3-0 on penalties following a goalless draw in their semifinals.
The Dutch played against Denmark in the group phase and won 1-0 owing to a penalty converted by skipper Sherida Spitse.
“Especially the first half against them we played really well so hopefully we can do that again,” said Martens.
“We know Denmark really well, but we have to focus on that game.”
“I think Denmark have been playing well for this whole tournament and they want to play football and it’s going to be an interesting game.”
One thing the hosts can rely on is a sold-out Twente stadium in Enschede, just like in the semi-final.
“In the World Cup we played for more (people) but this is amazing, it feels so great, when we had the national anthem, so many people were singing together, it was so cool,” said Martens
“We have been working so hard for it and it’s paying off now.”
“Hopefully we can take the next step and stand with the cup in our hands but we have to stay focused,” Martens added before heading to a long line of orange-clad onlookers in De Lutte to sign autographs and take selfies.
“We have to look back after the Euros, (at) what’s happening all around us,” she said.
“This is amazing what’s happening, we live in a little bit of dream, but we’re really enjoying it.”
“But we have to stay focused still because we really want to win it.”