Soccer

Italy v Netherlands | Quarter Final 2019

FIFA Women's World Cup | Stade du Hainaut

The two sides went to get any definite momentum in the opening 45 minutes in a scorching afternoon kick-off, but the game came to life after the break. Despite the Dutch dominating ownership statistics, it was not in fact any complex interplay that led to their breakthrough and second goal-the distinction was created by a couple of set pieces.

First, for a towering header, Sherida Spitse teed Vivianne Miedema before the No8 placed another one on a tray for Stefanie van der Gragt to nod back. The Italians head back with their heads held high, but the invasion of the Dutch Oranje heads to Lyon for a semi-final of the historic maiden Women’s World Cup.

“I’m not really surprised with how far we’ve come, but I’m very proud of the team. I think we have very good players but things have changed so much since the European Championships, we’ve gained a lot of confidence but we also needed to improve our game to perform on the level that we’re at at this World Cup. We have had some moments where we were lucky but there’s such a great team spirit and there’s such a great belief that we can perform well. The word proud is more suitable than surprised.”
Sarina Wiegman, Netherlands coach

Eight of the ten objectives so far achieved by the Netherlands in France 2019 came in the second quarter, five in the 75th minute or later.

Together with Lieke Martens, Vivianne Miedema is now the Dutch top scorer in the history of the Women’s World Cup.

“First of all, I didn’t expect to be in the semi-finals of this World Cup. We’ve been complaining that we’re not playing the best football but in the end we’re in the semis. We’ve done amazing and we can be really proud. We need to focus on the next game. We’ll see tonight if it’s Sweden or Germany. I don’t care, they’re both really good and we know that we can beat them, but we just need to get fit and focus on the next game. I’m a No9. In the end, people expect me to score goals. That header, I had a good feeling.”
Vivianne Miedema, Visa Player of the Match

In a quarter-final World Cup, Le Azzurre will have acquired so much from that experience. The Netherlands, the current European champions, showed their savvvy at the end of the game, and they didn’t let Italy back into the game, even for a second. The Netherlands tightened stuff on the back, with their passing pin-point accuracy, and that saw the game through for them.

Italy gave all they had against the Netherlands and there was nothing in the first half between them and the European champions. In the second, Le Azzurre’s emotions improved, while the experience and clinical finishing of the Netherlands shone through. Italy came one brief step from a historic semi-final but comes out with heads held high as this Women’s World Cup’s uplifting surprise tale. They’ll be greeted back home as heroines.

“The women’s game has been discovered and appreciated back home, so it’s a big deal. I believe the girls have a greater confidence and awareness of what great players they are. They need to be proud of themselves. The way they played and approached matches and their passion, they’ve shown people back home that football can be a sport where you have enjoyment, helping one another, unity and all these values. I think that’s why the public have fallen in love with this team.”
Milena Bertolini, Italy head coach

The 2-0 victory over Italy in Valenciennes may have looked more comfortable on the scoreboard than on the pitch, but it is particularly remarkable considering the weather conditions in which the teams played. After reaching the 16th round in their first ever Women’s World Cup in 2015, the Netherlands is writing history in France with a semi-final place.

Stefanie van der Gragt scored a superb header for the Netherlands ‘ all-important second objective.

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