The "Oranje" Dream Continues
Gefeliciteerd Holland! That's it! That's all I remember from my Dutch lessons years ago. The Netherlands has made it through to the semis of the Women's Wold Cup. I used to live there! Yeaaaaahhhhh!
The Netherlands played today, Saturday 29th June, against Italy. Both teams had a brilliant run in this tournament, but, the final K.O. for one of them was inevitable today. And it was Italy who ended up falling to the Dutch persistence, after they scored two late goals that gave the "Oranje" their first ticket to a Women's World Cup semis (0-2).
The preview of the match couldn't be better: The game was the first ever World Cup encounter between the two European sides. The Netherlands came into the game as the favorites as they were unbeaten in their previous 5 games against Italy in all other competitions, 3 wins and 2 draws.
The first minutes were a little bit plain, just a little bit of creation making and just looking for the best chance to give a surprise to the opposition. The Dutch started having the first two shots of the game early on, both from long rage by Miedema and Spitse, but, both were denied nicely by the Italian guardian, Giuliani.
The first one to give the first real glimpse of danger were the Italians. In the 18th minute, with a great chance from Bergamaschi. Juventus' forward, Barbara Bonansea, flicked the ball onto Bergamaschi, who brought it down well with her chest before taking her shot. The effort was good, but, the ball went straight at Dutch keeper Van Veenendaal, who made an easy save.
At that point, Italy was starting to dominate the first half, with The Netherlands focusing all their efforts on defending against the Italian side. On the 36th minute, Giacinti came close to putting the 1-0 up on the scoreboard, after she took a touch to the ball before striking with power towards the bottom corner. Sadly, she couldn't get it on target and the ball just rolled wide off the post. The game quickly moved to the second half, as the first was basically just a game of possession and few chances, where The Netherlands had more possession but the Italians had the few chances. HALF TIME!
On the 49th minute, just 4 minutes after the start, Dutch striker Miedema had a good chance to make the 0-1 for The Netherlands. Van de Sanden got past Italian defender Guagni really fast and chipped a great cross into Miedema's path. The forward rose to head the ball powerfully, but she couldn't put it into the back of the net. The "Oranje" continue to perform well, and clearly, this time their switch was completely "on" and not "off" as it was in the first half. On the 58th and 63rd minutes, Van de Donk and Spitse could have made a difference on the scoreboard, but in both opportunities, the Dutch found Giuliani and the post!
But, all that effort paid off with a great goal for The Netherlands by Vivianne Miedema. A Dutch free kick was whipped by Spitse into the Italian box, where Miedema appeared to head the ball without a problem. Giuliani almost got a hand on it, but the ball ended up flying past her and getting to the back of her net. GOOOOAAAALLLL! 0-1!
An the second was coming... Just 10 minutes after, Stefanie van de Gragt (That's a long name) scored the 2nd goal, which completely crushed the Italian dream of making it into the next round. Another free kick by Spitse ended up, this time, on Gragt's head, who fired the ball over Giuliani. GOOOOAAAALLLL! 0-2!
Italy didn't give up until the final minutes, but Van Veenendaal was superb to eliminate any dangerous counter by the Italians at the end of the match.
With this victory, Italy stays a step away from making history, while the Dutch are the ones to achieve it. The Netherlands will go to the semifinals awaiting the winner of Germany-Sweden. Who will win this 2019 Women's World Cup?