Netherlands through to the World Cup final with 99' goal

The Dutch Orange Bus at the 2019 World Cup
The Dutch Orange Bus, a supporters' bus, following the Dutch Women's team during the 2019 World Cup. June 30, 2019.. (photo: @DutchOrangeBus / Twitter)

A fierce strike from Jackie Groenen in the 99th minute of the 2019 World Cup was the only goal of the semi-final battle between the Netherlands and Sweden, and it gave the Dutch team a 1-0 victory. Oranje move on to their first-ever World Cup final, and will play the United States whose players held on to defeat England 2-1 on Tuesday. Sweden will play England for third place.

Groenen's efforts won her Player of the Match honors on Wednesday night in front of thousands of visiting Dutch fans who helped fill the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon, France. Official attendance figures stated that 48,452 attended the match.

A spectacular performance by Dutch goalkeeper and captain Sari van Veenendaal saw her mobbed by her teammates when the final whistle blew. She kept a clean sheet, and managed to get her hands on the ball to break up multiple Swedish attacks. Van Veenendaal was in tears after the match, and her eyes welled up later when broadcaster NOS showed her a highlight reel ending with a shot of her looking proud and exhausted.

Among those in the stadium was Ronald Koeman, the coach of the Dutch men's national team. “I expect them to win. The whole of the Netherlands hopes that," he told broadcaster NOS, predicting a 1-0 victory for Oranje. He turned out to be spot-on with his forecast.

The first half of the match was tilted in favor of the Dutch in terms of possession, 56%-44%, but Sweden was able to apply more pressure than the Netherlands. Sweden fouled the Dutch 13 times in the half, but managed to win three corners. Several times when Sweden had the ball in the corner or at the side of the area the team put many bodies in front of the goal, with the Dutch relying on the ability of goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal to knock the ball aside.

It continued into the 56th when Van Veenendaal was helped out by the far post. Following a punched-away corner, she was able to dive and get her fingertips on a rebound shot from the top right side of the area by defender Nilla Fischer that then bounced into the post, back into play, and just to the side of advancing Swedish defender Linda Sembrant.

Momentum began to shift in Oranje's favor soon after. The best Dutch chance also came off a corner in the 64th minute when striker Vivianne Miedema had an outstanding shot on goal. The corner was taken by midfielder Sherida Spitse, connecting with Miedema on the left side of the goal. The shot came in off Miedema's head, and goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl palmed the ball into the crossbar. The rebound was taken by defender Dominique Bloodworth, and was blocked first by Fischer then kicked aside by Stina Blackstenius. 

Substitute forward Shanice van de Sanden had a hard shot on goal that could have put the Dutch side through in the 92nd minute of the match. Another great save by Lindahl, her third of the evening, kept Sweden level at 0-0 as stoppage time eventually ran out and the match referee Marie-Soleil Beaudoin whistled an end to the second half.

The Netherlands finally got on the board with a lovely strike by midfielder Jackie Groenen in the 99th minute. Groenen went on an attacking run off the ball, and received a perfect one-touch pass from Daniël van de Donk. It gave Groenen a clear, open opportunity to blast the ball under the right arm of a diving, fully-outstretched Lindahl.

Minutes after play restarted, Van Veenendaal was able to get her hands on yet another corner sent towards the six-yard-box by Sweden. In smothering the ball, she preserved the Dutch lead, with the score remaining 1-0 going into the extra time break.

Heavy fouling by Sweden continued in the second part of extra time, which gave the Dutch squad an opportunity to kill time. By the 111th minute, the Swedes were called for their 22nd foul of the match, double the number of times the referee blew the whistle against the Dutch.

Sweden were relentless in the final minutes of play, applying continuous pressure on the Dutch defense. It led to their 12th corner in the 119th minute, when Van Veenendaal again appeared to get her hand on the ball to deflect it away, with the following shot from Kosovare Asllani missing wide.

Two minutes of stoppage time was added by officiating team, giving Shanice van de Sanden another offensive opportunity as she attacked from the far right side into the area. Her strike could have secured the Dutch victory but it went wide of the far post.

Still more time was added after Asilani collapsed to the ground when a ball ricocheted off Bloodworth's head, striking Sweden's attacking midfielder hard in the face. She was secured to a stretcher by medical personnel and was carried off the pitch after they treated the dazed player on the field for about five minutes.

Sweden still had one last exciting chance to force the match into a penalty shootout. Sweden's Julia Zigiotti Olme had one last chance that was again broken up by the Dutch defense, with Van Veenendaal well-positioned yet again.

Once the final whistle blew, Oranje had managed five shots on target, out of 15 shots altogether. By contrast, Sweden had three shots on goal out of 11 total shots. The Leeuwinnen held possession for 58 percent of the match, with pass accuracy rated at 73 percent. Sweden's pass accuracy sat at 64 percent when play ended.

The 2019 World Cup Final will take place in Lyon on Sunday, and the third-place match will be held at Allianz Riviera in Nice on Saturday. Both matches were scheduled for 5 p.m.

 

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