Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Groenen strikes to take Netherlands through to World Cup final against USA

The Netherlands’ rise as a force in women’s football continued on Wednesday as Jackie Groenen’s extra-time strike saw them edge out Sweden 1-0 in a gruelling World Cup semi-final in Lyon, taking the European champions through to this weekend’s final against the United States.

After a goalless 90 minutes, midfielder Groenen — a former judo European Championship bronze medallist as a youth who recently agreed a move to Manchester United — broke the deadlock in the 99th minute of a tense contest, breaking Swedish hearts in the process.

When Danielle van de Donk’s pass was touched into her path, Groenen sent a low shot from 20 yards beyond the reach of goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl and into the far corner.

Having knocked out Italy and former winners Japan in the previous two rounds, the Dutch are now just one game away from adding a first World Cup to the title they won at Euro 2017 as hosts.

“We never knew this would be possible. It’s one more match and we might possibly be world champions,” said a beaming Groenen.

Getting this far is a remarkable achievement for the “Oranje”, appearing at just their second World Cup, but they will need to improve drastically if they are to stand any chance of defeating the holders.

The Netherlands have long been a force in the men’s game, but they had never even been to a major women’s tournament until a decade ago.

“I think the potential has been in the Netherlands for a longer period of time but the facilities were not there,” said Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman, pointing to the start of the Dutch league in 2007 as the catalyst.

“It’s the whole development in the Netherlands and also the individuals that made bigger steps.

“Now they have been in a couple of tournaments so they are very experienced now too and they believe they can perform really well.”

The USA made it through to their third successive World Cup final after beating England 2-1 on Tuesday. That was a game which had it all, and it was always going to be difficult for this second semi-final to reach the same heights.

After ending a long hoodoo against old rivals Germany in the last round, 2016 Olympic finalists Sweden were the better team in the first half here.

Goalkeeping heroics

A Sari van Veenendaal save from Lina Hurtig in the 37th minute was the only chance of note in the first half, but the Dutch goalkeeper and captain denied Sweden again in the 56th minute as she tipped Nilla Fischer’s low shot onto the post.

On this evidence, it is remarkable that Van Veenendaal was released by Arsenal prior to the tournament.

That was not the best save in the second half, though, with Sweden’s Lindahl displaying stunning athleticism to tip a Vivianne Miedema header onto the bar.

Extra time approached, although substitute Shanice van de Sanden might have won it in stoppage time had her powerful strike not been tipped over by Lindahl.

The Dutch had seen Lieke Martens go off at half-time having been an injury doubt ahead of the game. She is a concern for the final, which her side reached thanks to Groenen finally getting the breakthrough in the first period of extra time.

It was a fine goal by the 24-year-old, but it was agonising for Sweden, and the 2003 World Cup runners-up also saw midfielder Kosovare Asllani go off on a stretcher at the end after being hit in the face by the ball.

They will face England in the third-place play-off in Nice on Saturday.

“Now it’s about the medal,” said coach Peter Gerhardsson. “Ending up third of course feels a lot better than ending up fourth. We’ll do everything in our power to try to do that.”

© Agence France-Presse

Vote for an informed choice

We’re dropping the paywall this week so that everyone can access all our stories for free, and get the information they need in the run up to the local government elections. For the latest updates and political analysis, sign up to our daily elections newsletter.

If our coverage helps inform your decision, cast your vote for an informed public and join our subscriber community. Right now, a full year’s access is just R510, half the usual cost. Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Andy Scott
Journalist/broadcaster. AFP sport. Commentate French football for world feed, http://Ligue1.com .

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Local government elections: Why it’s rational to vote with your...

Voting tactically may seem like a realistic, mature option, but it compromises the integrity of your vote and is corrosive to the long-term health of democracy

SA proposes new climate finance target ahead of COP26

Long-standing issues on climate finance will make or break COP26, says environment, forestry and fisheries minister

Local government elections: Port Edwards’ residents rely on ‘holy’ water...

The Ugu district municipality has, for years, failed to provide a constant source of clean water and parties are pitching their elections campaigns around the crisis

Eskom to take ‘extraordinary measures’ to avoid load-shedding for elections

Stage four load-shedding rolled out to ensure the polls on Monday 1 November are energy secure
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×