Women’s World Cup roundup: Sweden, Netherlands advance to semifinals
With Germany out of the way, Sweden believes it could win it all.
Stina Blackstenius scored the go-ahead goal just minutes into the second half, and Sweden surprised Germany with a 2-1 quarterfinal victory Saturday night at the Women’s World Cup.
It was Sweden’s first victory over Germany in a major tournament in 24 years, and it sent the ninth-ranked Swedes into the semifinals against the Netherlands.
“We’re going to go for it,” Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson said.
The second-ranked Germans, who won back-to-back World Cup titles in 2003 and ‘07, were the presumptive favorites on their side of the bracket. Instead, they are headed home.
Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg said her team seemed to lose focus.
“We knew it was going to be difficult,” she said. “We shall not let this bring us down. We have to make sure this process goes on despite the defeat, to keep on growing, to gain strength and channel this negative experience into something positive and to learn our lessons from it.”
The eighth-ranked Dutch defeated Italy 2-0 earlier Saturday, setting up the semifinal Wednesday in Lyon. The United States plays England in the other semifinal Tuesday. The final is July 7.
Sweden’s victory came in a rematch of the 2003 World Cup final, which Germany won 2-0 in Shanghai. The teams also met in the final at the 2016 Olympics, with Germany winning its first gold medal with a 2-1 victory.
Sweden’s last win over Germany in a major tournament was in the group stage of the 1995 World Cup.
“We knew we had a chance, and then, of course, we had to play our best game of the tournament to be able to beat Germany,” Gerhardsson said. “So I’m not surprised, but I knew we had to play and perform at our best on the offense and the defense. And I think we did.”
Netherlands 2, Italy 0 — The Oranje procession will roll into a Women’s World Cup semifinal for the first time.
The parade of fans, covered head to toe in orange, the brass band and, of course, the free-kick specialists on the field.
In the sweltering afternoon heat of northeast France, the Netherlands relied on a pair of headers off free kicks by Sherida Spitse to beat Italy in a quarterfinal.
Vivianne Miedema scored off Spitse’s delivery from the left side in the 70th minute to claim her 61st goal in 80 appearances for the Netherlands.
“In the end, people expect me to score goals,” Miedema said. “That header, I had a good feeling.”
So did Stefanie van der Gragt 10 minutes later, powering in a towering header when Spitse swung in a free kick from the right.
“I had the strength to get the ball in the right place,” Spitse said. “Our football, we could also play a little bit more and could score goals but it’s nice to score from set pieces as well.”
Six of the last eight goals have come from set pieces at this World Cup, only the second time the Dutch women have appeared in the tournament. Four years ago, they only made it to the round of 16 but laid the foundations to win the European Championship in 2017.
“I didn’t expect to be in the semifinals of this World Cup,” Miedema said. “We’ve been complaining that we’re not playing the best football but in the end we’re in the semis. We’ve done amazing and we can be really proud.”