Internationals reaction: Not Norway’s day

Maren Mjelde hoped for a better day when she became the first Chelsea Ladies player to captain her country at a major tournament and stresses the importance of analysing where it went wrong for Norway against the Netherlands.

Pride turned into disappointment for Mjelde in the opening game of Women’s Euro 2017 on Sunday as her team went down 1-0 to the hosts in Utrecht.

The Blues ever-present fulfilled a combination of defensive and midfield briefs as the Norwegians found themselves on the back foot right from kick-off, owing to an inspired display from the Dutch, whose local forward Shanice van de Sanden scored the winner.

Speaking to the official Chelsea website after the match at a sell-out Stadion Galgenwaard, Mjelde began by congratulating the Netherlands on a sharp and energetic performance.

‘They were really good today. They got off to a great start which shocked us a bit,’ she said.

‘Right now, I feel sick because this was a day I had been looking forward to for a long time.

‘It didn’t go our way but we can’t give up because we have really important games coming up. We need to discuss and learn from this performance and be ready for the next match.’

Mjelde, starting in central defence, came closest to scoring for Norway with a diamond of a free-kick, but she admitted her team found it tough to control the game against the speed and resilience of Holland. ‘I went into midfield to try and get a goal when we went behind but today I felt it was difficult because we didn’t have that much possession of the ball.

‘When we had it, we just gave it away, so it wasn’t easy to play in an advanced position.’

The Norwegians have pedigree in this competition having finished runners-up in 2013. Their current captain is relieved this defeat has come early in the competition and hopes she might eventually reflect on the positives.

‘It was a really proud moment for me and one which was long-awaited. I was hoping for a better result but the defeat will make me and the team stronger. I will probably remember this day for the wrong reasons but I’ll try to put those behind me.’

Her side still stand a good chance of reaching the knockout stage, although their meeting with Euro newcomers Belgium is crucial if they are to challenge Denmark, who beat the Belgians 1-0 in the other game of the day, in Group A.

‘We need to analyse the things we did wrong both as a team and as individuals,’ Mjelde said. ‘We need to be prepared for the next game which will be really important.’

That fixture will be on Thursday at the Rat Verlegh Stadium in Breda, where a Sweden side featuring Chelsea’s Hedvig Lindahl and Magdalena Eriksson face Germany tonight.

By Danny Wittenberg