Arsenal star Vivianne Miedema was on-target for The Netherlands as they defeated Italy 2-0 to reach their first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final on Saturday afternoon.
Two second half headers from Miedema and defender Stefanie van der Gragt saw Sarina Wiegman’s side win comfortably in Valenciennes to set up a mouth-watering semi-final tie with Sweden.
After a first half which saw both sides create little in the way of goalscoring opportunities, it was the Dutch who came out in the second half on the front foot. Influential, Arsenal midfielder Danielle van der Donk impressed throughout and created the best chance of the game on the hour mark, when her right-footed shot from the edge of the box came back off the bar.
Five minutes later, Sherida Spitse saw her long range free-kick hit the post. With temperatures reaching 34 degrees in Valenciennes, the Italians appeared to tire midway through the second period and the Dutch took full advantage, taking the lead on 70 minutes. Last season’s FA Women’s Super League top scorer and Netherlands all-time record goalscorer Miedema scored her 61st international goal, heading home a Spitse free-kick.
With 10 minutes to go, the Dutch doubled their advantage through a van der Gragt header and secured their place in Lyon for Wednesday’s semi-final showdown against Sweden.
Sweden booked their place in the semi-finals after coming from behind to beat Germany 2-1 in Rennes. Lina Magull gave the Germans the lead early in the second half only to see Sofia Jakobsson equalise five minutes later. Sweden completed their comeback just after half-time when Stina Blackstenius fired home from close range to give her side a famous victory.
Victories for both Sweden and the Netherlands see them qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. England’s 3-0 victory over Norway in the quarter-finals will also see Team GB feature as one of the top three European teams at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019.
Norway 0-3 England
France 1-2 USA
Italy 0-2 Netherlands
Germany 1-2 Sweden
England v USA
Netherlands v Sweden
By Jamie Farrin (@jamiefarrin)