The Netherlands and Sweden secured their place in the final four of the Women’s World Cup with victories over Italy and Germany respectively.
Vivianne Miedema and Stefanie Van Der Gragt were on target for the Netherlands as they reached semi-finals for the first time in their history with a 2-0 win over the Italian side.
Sofia Jakobsson and Stina Blackstenius were on target for Sweden in their 2-1 victory against Germany.
Netherlands 2-0 Italy
In the build-up to the match, Holland’s request to push back the afternoon kick-off because of the heatwave in France was turned down by tournament organisers.
The searing temperatures resulted in scheduled drink breaks and contributed to a drab, uneventful opening 45 minutes.
Italy’s Valentina Bergamaschi directed an early volley straight at Dutch goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal following Barbara Bonansea’s flick-on, and later scuffed wide when well placed.
At the other end, Miedema’s effort from distance and Spitse’s tame free-kick were both comfortably claimed by Laura Giuliani.
Italy, playing their first World Cup quarter-final since 1991, were the lowest-ranked team left in the tournament and considered by many as this year’s surprise package.
They began to be pressed back in their own half in the second period as the Euro 2017 winners took control of the tie.
Dutch forward Lieke Martens, who scored the last-minute penalty to beat Japan in the last 16 and shrugged off a toe injury to start, twice had sights of goal but lacked the power to beat Giuliani.
Arsenal’s Danielle Van De Donk was unfortunate not to open the scoring in the 58th minute with a curling effort from the edge of the box which bounced back off the crossbar following a partially-cleared corner.
Italy continued to ride their luck and were once again reliant on the frame of the goal when midfielder Spitse’s powerful free-kick from distance glanced the base of the left post.
However, they could not hold out for much longer and Sarina Wiegman’s side duly went ahead with 70 minutes on the clock.
Spitse delivered an inviting, in-swinging set-piece from wide on the left, allowing Holland’s record scorer Miedema to flick home her 61st goal for her country and third of the competition.
Italy suffered a further blow 10 minutes later when Barcelona player Van Der Gragt climbed high at the back post to power home Spitse’s floated free-kick from the right.
Substitute Daniela Sabatino had a chance to set up a tense finish but her close-range effort was repelled by Van Veenendaal as Italy’s hopes of a comeback ended.
Germany 1-2 Sweden
Germany took the lead after just 16 minutes when Lina Magull found the net but that advantage did not last long.
Six minutes later, Sofia Jakobsson got Sweden back on level terms with the sides going in level at the break.
The winning strike came three minutes after half-time thanks to Stina Blackstenius and they managed to hold on to secure their place in the final four.
More to follow…