Lidewij Welten scored just 17 seconds into the new Hockey Pro League season ©Getty Images

Olympic, world, European and Hockey Pro League champions The Netherlands needed just 17 seconds to score the first goal of the season as the latter competition returned.

The Dutch women beat Belgium 2-0 in the curtain-raiser in Amsterdam, with Lidewij Welten getting them going with the early goal.

Belgium gave a good account of themselves, but Freeke Moes put the result beyond much doubt in the 52nd minute, scoring from a tight angle having rounded the goalkeeper.

The Netherlands have now won all five of their Hockey Pro League meetings with their neighbours and have made a confident start in their quest to win a third consecutive title.

Captain Eva de Goede won a 250th international cap at Wagener Stadium, while Marente Barentsen, Joosje Burg and Sabine Plönissen all made senior debuts for the Dutch.

Belgium are next in action on Saturday and Sunday (October 16 and 17), hosting Germany in a doubleheader, while The Netherlands' next game is at this venue against Belgium, on November 10.

The International Hockey Federation has added Spain and India to the women's Hockey Pro League this season after Australia and New Zealand withdrew.

The two nations from Oceania pulled out on COVID-19 grounds.

The coronavirus crisis saw numerous Hockey Pro League matches called off last season, and the competition's timeline was extended before points average was ultimately used to decide the standings, with teams having played different numbers of games.

Last season's trophy was presented to the Dutch side before push-back today.