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Tue, Jan

Netherlands book semi-final spot as set-pieces sink Italy

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Italy were the surprise team of the tournament. This was their first World Cup in 20 years and they topped a group including Australia, Brazil and ...
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The Netherlands reached the Women's World Cup semi-finals for the first time thanks to two second-half headers against Italy in Valenciennes.

Vivianne Miedema, the Netherlands' all-time top scorer, netted her 61st international goal with a glancing header from Sherida Spitse's free-kick.

And Stefanie van der Gragt powered home another Spitse free-kick to seal their place in the last four.

The European champions will face Germany or Sweden in the semi-final.

That fourth quarter-final kicks off at 17:30 BST. The semi-final will be in Lyon on Wednesday.

The Netherlands are playing at a World Cup finals for only the second time, and went out in the last 16 in 2015.

They were victors at Euro 2017, their home tournament, and they had great support in Valenciennes, which is only a two-hour drive from the Dutch border.

It was an even first half at the Stade du Hainaut but the Netherlands blew Italy away after the break.

They had 15 shots in the second half alone, including Danielle van de Donk's wonderful curling chip from the edge of the box which hit the bar.

Italy had no answer for them, and Spitse - who had already blasted a long-range free-kick inches wide - was the decisive figure in the end. Her free-kicks were headed home by Miedema and then Van der Gragt in the space of 10 minutes.

She has now set up four goals in the tournament, more than anybody else.

The Netherlands will compete in next year's Olympics in Tokyo as a result of being one of the final three European teams in the World Cup.

Italy's brave run comes to an end

Italy were the surprise team of the tournament. This was their first World Cup in 20 years and they topped a group including Australia, Brazil and Jamaica before beating China in the last 16.

Captain Sara Gama said in the build-up to the game that they wanted to build a legacy in Italy, adding: "We must give ourselves a timeline to avoid wasting everything we have done and carry on the project."

Italy gave it a really good go in the first half and Valentina Bergamaschi should have done better with two free shots in the area, but both were saved by Sari van Veenendaal.

They were understandably tired in 34C heat in the second half - the women's game is not fully professional in Italy - and were well beaten in the end.

But boss Milena Bertolini's pre-match hope of "helping the Italian public discover the women's game" has surely been achieved.

 

Source: BBC

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