The Netherlands is through to the final four. In extreme heat on Saturday morning in Valenciennes, France, the Netherlands defeated Italy 2-0 to secure its spot in the semifinals at the 2019 World Cup.
the Netherlands will face the winner of Germany vs. Sweden. On the other side of the bracket, the U.S. and England loom.
Though the Netherlands found it difficult to break through with a goal, it managed to dictate the majority of the game, winning the possession battle 59-41 and outshooting Italy 21-6. Over time, Italy finally wore down. In the final 20 minutes, the Netherlands finally scored the goals it needed to secure its spot in the semifinals. Both came on set pieces.
The match began with 91-degree heat and 33 percent humidity, per the FS1 broadcast. In the opening minutes, the Netherlands dominated possession and looked dangerous in attack, but failed to generate any clear goal-scoring opportunities.
It was actually Italy who should've opened the scoring in the 18th minute, but Valentina Bergamaschi's attempted chip was saved easily by Sari van Veenendaal. Another chance for Italy came in the 36th minute, but Valentina Giacinti's shot trickled wide of the far post.
Despite all of its possession, the Netherlands was lacking in its final product and looked vulnerable at the other end of the pitch. At halftime, the scoreline was level at 0-0.
After the break, the Netherlands asserted its dominance, but still couldn't find a goal. It certainly felt like a goal was coming after Jackie Groenen had a shot from in close blocked by a defender and Vivianne Miedema just missed a tap-in on a well-placed cross just over five minutes into the second half. In the 58th minute, Daniëlle van de Donk's shot from 18 yards out found the crossbar.
In the 63rd minute, Sherida Spitse sent a free kick inches wide of the far post. The Netherlands neared a breakthrough.
It came in the 70th minute on a free kick. A perfect delivery from Spitse was headed in by Miedema. The Netherlands added onto its lead 10 minutes later. Another free kick from Spitse led to a goal from Stefanie van der Gragt.
Italy failed to make a late push and with that, the Netherlands were through to their first ever World Cup semifinals in their second ever World Cup appearance. In 2015, they failed to make it past the Round of 16. Four years later, they're on the cusp of reaching the final.