The Netherlands joined the U.S. women’s national team and England in the semifinals of the 2019 Women’s World Cup by beating Italy in a sweltering war of attrition on Saturday.
[ HIGHLIGHTS: USWNT holds off France in riveting quarterfinal ]
It’s the first time they have ever reached the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup, in just their second appearance.
With the temperature over 90 degrees and the sun shining brightly for a 3 p.m. local time kickoff, both sides were forced to deal with the hardly ideal conditions, and the Dutch had much more left in the tank when the game’s final 20 minutes rolled around. That was the clear and obvious difference.
The goals didn’t come until the 70th and 80th minutes, but the Oranje were firmly on the front foot for much of the second half and were the only side that ever looked like breaking through.
Vivianne Miedema scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal, her third of the tournament, with a perfectly executed flicked header from a free kick.
Once the Italian backline had given way, it didn’t take long for the Netherlands to score a second goal and put the game to bed. Once again, it was a header from a free kick that unlocked the goalmouth. Stefanie van der Gragt rose highest at the back post and made thunderous contact with the ball to make it 2-0.
The Dutch will face the winner of Saturday’s other quarterfinal, between Germany and Sweden, on Wednesday in Lyon.