Netherlands midfielder Damaris Egurrola got the ball rolling for her country’s crucial 3-2 win over Portugal at Euro 2022 on Wednesday night and was named the official player of the match in what was actually her debut in a major senior tournament.

Egurrola, a Champions League winner with Lyon at club level this year, came into the Dutch lineup because of Jackie Groenen’s enforced absence with Covid-19.

Groenen had been excellent in the 1-1 draw with Sweden at the weekend and it was therefore a blow that she was left unable to face Portugal in a must-win game. Yet Egurrola played with experience and guile beyond her 22 years and five previous Dutch caps.

She slotted seamlessly into coach Mark Parsons’ midfield. And while it was Danielle van de Donk’s stunning winner that decided the game and will be the last memory from it, it was Egurrola’s display that ultimately provided the foundation for the victory.

“Dama does a great job controlling the short passes, pulling people in and then also changing sides with medium and longer passes,” Parsons reflected.

“She’s just ready to play with the ball. It doesn’t matter who she is playing against. When she goes into the duels and headers, you see that she’s always on, playing her game. “

That depth is crucial given that the Dutch were without four important players and effectively their usual spine against Portugal – Sari van Veenendaal is out of the tournament, with Vivianne Miedema sidelined with Covid-19 like Groenen and centre-back Aniek Nouwen nursing an injury.

It wasn’t a flawless performance from Netherlands – Parsons didn’t shy away from that, labelling Portugal’s second goal ‘unacceptable’ from a Dutch perspective – but to have options like Egurrola to turn to in the squad bodes well for what is still to come.

“Dama, Sherida [Spitse] and Jill Roord, in the first 30 minutes Portugal didn’t know what hit them because of the way that they all played and connected,” Parsons said.

“I’m glad that I’ve got Dama, Sherida, Jackie, Dan, Jill Roord and any others that keep doing a good job for us in midfield.”

Egurrola herself commented on the unity and spirit with the Oranje Leeuwinnen squad.

“Covid is still here and we’ve had it in the team. It was difficult to receive the news from our teammates that tested positive. But we stuck together, taking it as it came,” she said.

“We had great training [on Monday and Tuesday] and that’s the way this team works. Every time we have something that isn’t positive, we keep on working hard and trying to do our best as a team.”

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