The Dutch scored a controversial late penalty against Japan while the Italians eased past China
VAR took centre-stage on another eventful night at the Women’s World Cup, as the last two quarter-final spots were sealed.
Here’s a round-up of the action:
Netherlandz 2-1 Japan
The Netherlands were awarded a contentious late penalty to beat Japan and reach the quarter-finals.
Lieke Martens scored her second of the game to secure a 2-1 victory after the VAR adjudged that Japan captain Saki Kumagai had blocked a shot with her arm.
Yui Hasegawa had pulled Japan level following Martens’ opener but it would be the use of video technology which again courted drama at Rennes’ Roazhon Park.
Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema had an early effort blocked behind but the Dutch were ahead with 17 minutes on the clock as Martens’ clever back-heel found a way into the corner of the goal following a deflection.
Yuika Sugasawa then hit the outside of the post as Japan looked to level before the interval and the equaliser duly arrived as Hasegawa brilliantly chipped home.
Both sides created further chances in the second half as an even contest appeared set for extra-time.
It was Japan who looked like finishing the game stronger, Hasegawa firing inches wide, Mana Iwabuchi hitting the side-netting and Hina Sugita hitting the crossbar.
But it would all prove to be for nothing as Holland secured their place in the last eight and a meeting with Italy.
With two minutes remaining, Miedema’s shot hit Kumagai and, after consulting the VAR, referee Melissa Borjas pointed to the spot.
Martens kept her composure to convert from 12 yards but even then Japan pushed for a second equaliser as a goalmouth scramble was cleared by the Dutch, who held on to progress.
Italy 2-0 China
Italy eased past China 2-0 in Montpellier to secure their place in the last eight of the Women’s World Cup.
Valentina Giacinti and Aurora Galli struck in either half to set up a quarter-final clash with either Holland or Japan on Saturday.
China were always up against it following Giacinti’s early opener and are eliminated having scored just once in their four games in the finals.
AC Milan forward Giacinti had already seen an effort chalked out for offside and was presented with a fine chance following a misplaced pass out of the China defence.
She would break the deadlock at the third time of asking, Chinese goalkeeper Peng Shimeng doing well to keep out Elisa Bartoli’s effort only for Giacinti to tuck home the rebound.
China responded well and saw a video assistant referee check deny them a penalty before Wang Yen’s long-range strike drew a save out of Laura Giuliani.
Valentina Bergamaschi and Sara Gama came close to doubling the lead before the break but it was China who hit the woodwork through Li Ying’s header ahead of the interval.
Galli came off the bench and secured the win for Italy four minutes after the restart as China stood off her and allowed the Juventus midfielder to bury her chance from 30 yards out.
China, so defensive throughout the group stage, pushed forward in the hope of staging an unlikely comeback.
Wang Shuang, Han Peng, Li Ying, and Zhang Rui all had half-chances but could not set up a grandstand end to the encounter, with Italy seeing out the remainder of the game to advance.