Thursday, October 22, 2020

Dutch edge Sweden to reach WWC final

The Dutch joined the USA in the final of the Women’s World Cup as they beat Sweden 1-0 in Lyon. After a goalless game, it took a Jackie Groenen goal in extra-time for the Dutch to see off a resolute and compact Swedish side.

The first half of the game saw very little action as neither side managed to gain much of an advantage over the other. Both teams looked strong and compact at the back, but lacked much in the way of goal-scoring threat and at the break, the scores were still level at 0-0.

The second half wasn’t all that different either, but we did at least see a few goal-scoring opportunities as both sides struck the woodwork. Sweden came very close to opening the scoring when Nilla Fischer picked the ball up the ball following a clearance by the keeper. Fischer struck the ball across the keeper, only to see Sari van Veenendaal get a fingertip save and push it onto the post. Fortunately for the Dutch, they managed to get the rebound clear and survive.

A few minutes later, the Netherlands came very close to scoring themselves when Vivianne Miedema jumped highest from a corner. She headed the ball powerfully towards the goal but couldn’t quite beat Hedvig Lindahl as the former Chelsea stopped tipped the ball onto the bar.

Dutch finish the stronger

With neither side having been able to break the deadlock, the referee blew for full-time and we readied ourselves for another gruelling half hour. It only took nine minutes of the extra 30 for the Netherlands to finally find the net as Jackie Groenen broke the deadlock. She picked the ball up 25 yards from goal, took a touch to set herself and hammered a low, driven effort past van Veenendaal and into the bottom corner.

After the goal, the Netherlands looked pretty comfortable as Sweden struggled to make many scoring chances. In fact, the best chance of the game after that was a late chance for substitute Shanice van de Sanden as she broke into the box, one-on-one with Lindahl. She tried to be too cute with her effort and mis-kicked an outside of the boot effort wide of the post.

Ultimately, Sweden come up short as the Netherlands join the USA in the final of the Women’s World Cup. It will the first time in the history of the Dutch women’s national team that they have reached the World Cup final. They’re European champs already, can they become World champs too? It’s a tall order to beat that US team, but they’re more than capable of doing it.

You can watch that game on BBC One on Sunday at 4pm. Meanwhile, Sweden will take on England in the third place playoff 24 hours earlier at the Stade de Nice.

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