Dutch reach first Women’s World Cup final, will face U.S.

Netherlands 1 Sweden 0

LYON, France — When Jackie Groenen received the ball, even though she was outside the penalty area, the Dutch midfielder knew she had to seize her opening.

It was 99 minutes into a grueling Women’s World Cup semifinal, and neither the Netherlands nor Sweden was finding a clear path to the goal Wednesday night.

“I saw a nice angle,” Groenen said. “We’ve been discussing this for a couple of weeks now that I need to take shots more often. The ball just came really nicely, and I thought, ‘Let’s do this.”’

A slick passing sequence ended with Groenen driving a shot past goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl. A first shot on target in France produced her first goal of the tournament.

“I’m not much of a scorer,” she said. “But I’m very happy today I got to score.”

It sent the Netherlands into its first Women’s World Cup final, where the Dutch will face the United States on Sunday, back in the Stade de Lyon.

Two years after the Dutch won their first major trophy — the European Championship — Groenen is already dreaming of a first world title in only their second attempt.

“It kind of went through my mind as soon as I got off the pitch,” she said. “The Americans are massive, they have massive players. They are the biggest team in the world but I can’t wait to play.”

Progress for the Dutch has been rapid after reaching the round of 16 during their World Cup debut four years ago.

“The potential for the Netherlands has been there for a long time,” Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman said. “Since 2007, when the Eredivisie started and players got better facilities and could train more, the players developed so much that they improved. And then when you’re at big tournaments, like European Championships and World Cups, they develop even more. They made transfers to big clubs in Europe.”

Players like Groenen, who became the first overseas signing for Manchester United after the recently formed women’s team was promoted to England’s Super League in May.

Before she pulls on a red jersey, Groenen could become a world champion in orange by beating the defending champions.

“We are very down to earth but they have their own qualities and we have ours,” she said.

The finalists have something in common: female coaches. With Jill Ellis coaching the U.S. and Wiegman in charge of the Netherlands, the run of three finals featuring a male coach comes to an end.

“It’s important that women have the opportunity to develop as players, as coaches and in society,” Wiegman said.

After a draining game in sweltering central France, the Dutch have one less day than the Americans to prepare for the title game and they will have to be more potent up front to overcome the athletic three-time champions.

The second semifinal was no match for the drama, tension and high energy of the previous night when the U.S. beat England 2-1.

The game featured few scoring chances and was only lit up by the goalkeeping in regulation time — particularly in the second half.

A shot from Nilla Fischer was creeping into the net in the 56th minute until Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal tipped it onto the post.

It was the crossbar that denied the Dutch in the 64th minute when a header from Vivianne Miedema was pushed onto the frame by Lindahl’s fingertips.

“I felt like we had a golden opportunity to take this team to the final, and we didn’t take it,” Lindahl said. “Very disappointed.”

The goalkeepers wouldn’t be relied on for a penalty shootout thanks to Groenen’s moment of brilliance, leaving the Swedes having to settle for bronze if they can beat England on Saturday in Nice.

“It was a really tight game tonight. It was really tough,” Netherlands forward Lieke Martens said. “I thought we had really good character. We really played until the last minute. We worked 200%. The effort was so big today. I’m really proud of the girls.”

The priority for Martens now is recovering from an ongoing foot injury that forced her off at halftime.

“If I’m not 100% fit then I want another girl to come in and give 100%,” she said. “That’s the most important thing. It’s easy. As a player, you always want to play the biggest game of your career and this is one of the biggest ones I hopefully am going to play. I’m going to do the recovery. I really believe in the medical staff.”

Just Posted

Wet conditions hampering haying efforts

Crops throughout central Alberta doing decently for now

Chuckwagon race safety up for review after six horses die during Stampede event

CALGARY — Injuries have forced a veterinary medical team to euthanize three… Continue reading

Missing woman found safe

Red Deer RCMP thank public

Missing man found safe

Red Deer RCMP thank public

Ontario should heed lessons of other provinces for new beer system: experts

TORONTO — As the Ontario government prepares to move ahead with its… Continue reading

Visitors flock to Bluebird Festival

Annual festival takes place east of Blackfalds

You don’t feel alientated, Trudeau tells western Canadians

National unity is not being threatened by the federal government’s attack on… Continue reading

America poised to turn its back on Afghan quagmire

There is movement toward peace in Afghanistan – or at least toward… Continue reading

It takes determinaton, and luck, to get an old bike running again

I recently mentioned a friend of mine, Gary, had opened a two-wheeled… Continue reading

Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski falls in Wimbledon women’s doubles final

WIMBLEDON, England — Gabriela Dabrowski fell one victory short of her first… Continue reading

Canada’s James Hinchcliffe places sixth in hometown Indy Toronto race

TORONTO — James Hinchcliffe gained more ground than any other driver at… Continue reading

Remains found in Oregon believed to be actor Charles Levin

SELMA, Ore. — Remains found in a remote area of Oregon are… Continue reading

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

MONTREAL — Margaret Trudeau says one of the goals of her one-woman… Continue reading

Go back to your ‘broken and crime infested’ homes, Trump tells congresswomen of colour

Republicans remained largely silent after Trump’s morning broadsides against the four women

Most Read