Netherlands got their Women’s World Cup campaign off and running with a 1-0 victory over Portugal.
Stefanie van der Gragt’s first-half header proved the difference between the teams, although Portugal failed to lay a glove on the 2019 runners-up.
Van der Gragt’s goal was initially ruled out by an offside flag but VAR stepped in to award the goal as Jill Roord, who was flagged, was deemed not to be interfering with play.
The Dutch edged out Portugal 3-2 a year ago in the European Championship group stage, but this time the Iberian side were no match for the team in their trademark orange and did not have a shot on target until the 82nd minute.
Netherlands scored in the 13th minute from a corner when Van der Gragt rose above the Portugal defence at the far post to head home, but the flag went up for offside when the assistant referee deemed Roord to be obstructing the goalkeeper.
However, the offside decision for interfering with play was overturned on a VAR review by the referee after she watched a replay on the monitor and the goal stood, sparking a second celebration from the Dutch team.
Roord nearly made it 2-0 minutes later when she had a free header in the six-yard box, but the unmarked midfielder headed over the bar to hand Portugal a lifeline.
Portugal, however, failed to muster a shot on goal in the first half, while at the other end they thwarted waves of attacks from the Dutch.
The story was the same in the second half when Portuguese ‘keeper Ines Pereira denied Danielle van de Donk with a fine reflex save after some clever passing to set up the midfielder.
Portugal substitute Telma Encarnacao finally created their best opportunity in the 82nd minute when she charged down the right flank and cut in to shoot, but Dutch ‘keeper Daphne van Domselaar was up to the task and parried her attempt.
Group E returns on Thursday July 28. The Netherlands take on World Cup holders the USA as Portugal face Vietnam.
The final group games will take place on Tuesday August 1. The Netherlands will face Vietnam while Portugal will play the USA.
What is the schedule?
The group stage has begun and runs over a two-week period finishing on August 3. Group winners and runners-up progress to the round of 16, which takes place from August 5 to August 8.
The quarter-finals, which will be held in Wellington, Auckland, Brisbane and Sydney, are scheduled for August 11 and 12.
The first semi-final will then be played on August 15 in Auckland, with the other semi-final taking place on August 16 at the Accor Stadium in Sydney, which will then host the final on August 20.
A third-place play-off will be played the day before the final on August 19 in Brisbane.