Published: Mon, July 08, 2019
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Groenen fires Netherlands to World Cup final

Groenen fires Netherlands to World Cup final

Playing in only their second Women's World Cup, the Netherlands qualified for the final against three-time champion U.S. with a 1-0 win over Sweden in extra time in the second semifinal.

Groenen's shot was low and hard. They already have a prize in a guaranteed place at their first Olympic Games next year in Tokyo.

The Swedes were on the front foot in the early exchanges of the second stanza and they nearly found the breakthrough two minutes before the hour-mark as Nilla Fischer rattled the frame of the goal from close range.

Aged Arsenal goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal had earlier kept the Dutch on stage phrases with three valuable saves, earlier than Gunners striker Vivianne Miedema's header was touched on to Sweden's crossbar on the other discontinue.

Netherlands' Jackie Groenen, right, celebrates with her teammate Shanice Van De Sanden after scoring her side's opening goal during the Women's World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Sweden, at the Stade de Lyon outside Lyon, France, Wednesday, July 3, 2019.

Although the Swedes fought back hard in the second half of extra time, they could not equalise against the European champions. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. She almost won the game for Netherlands on practically the last kick of regulation time as her shot heading for the top corner was tipped over the bar by Lindahl.

"I think the potential has been in the Netherlands for a longer period of time but the facilities were not there", said Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman, a former Netherlands midfielder who amassed more than 100 caps in a 14-year playing career, pointing to the start of the Dutch league in 2007 as the catalyst.

Minutes later, Miedema nearly lobbed in one on the opposite end, but the Arsenal centre-forward was again thwarted in open play.

The Netherlands' band of trumpeters played on regardless of the nervy spectacle before them, rousing the good-natured Dutch fans into a cheerful chorus of well-known tunes.

"At the beginning of the tournament the entire squad had been criticized but we were still able to win", Wiegman said.

That positive impression was backed up by Higgins - now Higgins-Cirovski - who would feature when Dorrance's United States of America team beat Norway in the first ever World Cup final in 1991. "It's the States", said Groenen, who had scored one previous goal for the national team.

"We never thought this could be possible", she said. Ending up third of course feels a lot better than ending up fourth. "We will do everything in our power to do that".

"I know nothing right now", Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson told reporters in the immediate aftermath of defeat.

'Maybe the football hasn't been that special, but we're good at closing out games. Along the way, they picked up a devoted nation of supporters who've followed them through World Cup qualifying and here to France.

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