Netherlands v Japan | Round of Sixteen 2019

FIFA Women's World Cup | Roazhon Park

Today, in Rennes, a cliché became real as’ a two-half match’ took place. The first half was dominated by the Netherlands, taking the lead through Lieke Martens and looking good value for it. Before the break and the tide turned, however, Japan equalized through Yui Hasegawa. The Nadeshiko looked like pushing for the winner, but was unable to take their opportunities-hitting the crossbar and discovering Sari van Veenendaal in good shape.

“To have another game in Valenciennes (against Italy in the quarter-finals), it’s amazing that we play there again. It felt like we were playing at home (last time the Dutch played there against Cameroon.) We expect a lot of support again and I’m really looking forward to that game.”
Lieke Martens, Visa Player of the Match

After Saki Kumagai was judged to have committed a handball in the penalty area, the Dutch finally broke Japanese hearts. Lieke Martens got up and sent the Oranjeleeuwinnen to a historic quarter-final for the first Women’s World Cup.

With her parents and sister Merel, who performs for Belgian side VC Moldavo in the Belgian second tier, Jackie Groenen could celebrate the victory over Japan pitch-side as the whole family had flown out to Rennes to see Jackie shine.

“We knew it was going to be a difficult match and we needed to change our tactics – that was how we were going to play and overall we played really calmly. Towards the end of the match in the second half we created many goalscoring opportunities, it was really unfortunate that we couldn’t take them. I think we lacked the clinical edge. We have to accept the result, we’re defeated, we’re very disappointed and for all the players I feel very sorry for them and frustrated.”
Asako Takakura, Japan coach

The Dutch teams went to the pitch after the match to celebrate with each other and the incredible help from Oranje. Magical Martens, she is now (with three objectives) the top scorer for her nation in the history of the Women’s World Cup.

It was another nail biter for the Oranjeleeuwinnen, but after a late victory over Japan, which sealed a spot for the Dutch in the quarter finals, the joy will be no less in Camp Oranje. Talking points for the Netherlands will once again be abundant, but right now there is only one thing that matters: they go to the quarter-finals!

“We were standing in the circle after the match and we were so happy, yelling at each other. We were saying ‘let’s continue writing history!’ For the first time we got to this stage at the World Cup. All the players then used this mantra.”
Sarina Wiegman, Netherlands coach

Football is a sport that can deliver the greatest and lowest moments. As they moved through this tournament, this young team showed positive and attractive football, but they couldn’t move past the Dutch into the next round. It’s a big shame as they grew into this game and dominated in the second half of the match for big spells. The fact that handball was given in World Cup winner Suki Kumagai against such an experienced player will be bittersweet: one of the younger players hasn’t happened, so they won’t have to live with this heartbreak for years to come. Certainly theNadeshiko can keep their heads high as they leave France.