Women’s World Cup: Netherlands, Sweden advance to semifinals
Vivianne Miedema and Stefanie van der Gragt headed in free kicks to send the Netherlands into its first Women’s World Cup semifinal with a 2-0 victory over Italy on Saturday in Valenciennes, France.
In the sweltering heat of the northeast French city of Valenciennes, the set-piece specialists of the tournament made the most of Sherida Spitse’s deliveries to secure victory for the European champions.
Miedema nodded in from Spitse’s delivery from the left side in the 70th minute to claim her 61st goal in 80 appearances for the Netherlands — and the forward is still only 22.
Ten minutes later, van der Gragt powered in a towering header when Spitse swung in a free kick from the right.
The Dutch have made the semifinals in only their second World Cup appearance, having reached the round of 16 in 2015. They will play Germany or Sweden in the semifinals on Wednesday in Lyon, a day after England plays the United States in the same stadium.
The Netherlands has also now secured a place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, as has England, which organizes the British team.
Sweden 2, Germany 1: Stina Blackstenius scored the go-ahead goal just minutes into the second half and Sweden surprised Germany at Rennes, France.
The second-ranked Germans, who won back-to-back World Cup titles in 2003 and 2007, were the presumptive favorites on their side of the bracket. Instead, they’ll head home.
Ninth-ranked Sweden goes on to face the Netherlands in a semifinal match on Wednesday in Lyon. The Dutch defeated Italy 2-0 earlier Saturday. The United States plays England in the other semifinal on Tuesday. The final is July 7.
The game was a rematch of the 2003 World Cup final, which Germany won 2-0 in Shanghai. The teams also met in the final at the 2016 Olympics, with Germany winning its first gold medal with a 2-1 victory.
Lina Magull’s fantastic finish on a half-volley put Germany up in the 16th minute, with Sara Daebritz setting up the goal that veteran Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl couldn’t get to.
Sweden’s Sofia Jakobsson tied it in the 22nd minute with a strike that went under the outstretched leg of German goalkeeper Almuth Schult.
It was the first goal the Germans had allowed at the World Cup, stopping a streak of 381 scoreless minutes. In 2007, Germany went a record 540 minutes without conceding a goal.
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