Lyon, France: Thanks to Jackie Groenen’s extra-time goal, the Netherlands came out the biggest surprise-pack in this World Cup, beating four-time semifinalists Sweden 1-0 here. Running onto a loose ball just outside the box, the Frankfurt playmaker launched a right-footed strike and just saw the ball flying across the Swedish goalie Hedvig Lindahl and into the goal’s bottom left corner on 99 minutes.
With the 120-minute victory, Sarina Wiegman’s team set up a final showdown with defending champions United States, also here in the stade de Lyon on Sunday. This is the first ever Women’s World Cup semifinal to go to extra time as the Dutch women, also in their first last-four showup of the quadrennial event, started sluggishly but managed to hold Sweden 0-0 in 90 minutes.
The Oranjeleeuwinnen had only one shot on target to their name in the first half, while Sweden, on the other hand, looked lively in possession, especially down the right wing. Elin Rubensson, who started in the place of Nathalie Bjorn in the last minute after the latter started feeling a possible fever getting into the Stade de Lyon, had a shot blocked on 37 minutes before Lina Hurtig’s follow-up was kicked away by Sari van Veenendaal.
The 2003 runners-up also posed some dangerous moves on 18-19 minutes with two set pieces having been awarded but none of their efforts was turned into real chances. Peter Gerhardsson’s side then restarted the game strongly as Nilla Fischer’s low strike inside the box just hit the post in the 56th minute before Desiree van Lunteren cleared it away.
And whatever Wiegman told her players in the dressing room, it obviously worked, too, with more attacking efforts seen by the Dutch side in the second half. Vivianne Miedema created the best chance for the Netherlands in regular time as the Arsenal forward hit a looping header from a corner kick on 64 minutes, but Swedish keeper Lindahl tipped it onto the crossbar.