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Dutch delight after Groenen strike
 Women's Football World Cup News - 5 Jul 2019
A superb extra time strike by Jackie Groenen has taken the Netherlands through to their first World Cup Final as they narrowly got the better of Sweden in their semi final in Lyon.
The game had been a closely contested one between two evenly matched teams, resulting in few chances at either end and with both goalkeepers in excellent form, it always looked as though one moment of inspiration would settle the match.
With what could well be a one in a lifetime chance of playing in a World Cup Final on offer, it was understandable that both teams started the game cautiously and both teams defended excellently, making it hard for the relative attacks to create chances.
The Netherlands thought they had got it when Danielle van de Donk slipped a pass to Vivianne Miedema, who cut into the area but she was foiled by a brilliant block from Caroline Seger.
Sofia Jakobsson has had a good tournament for the Swedes and she was instrumental in the first chance of the game, finding Stina Blackstenuis whose shot was straight at Sari van Veenendaal.
Van Veenendaal was to do better as half time approached with an instinctive save, blocking with her leg as Lina Hurtig poked the ball goalwards following a scramble in the Netherlands area.
The closeness in the match continued after half time but Sweden began to step up the pressure and almost took the lead just before the hour. The Dutch defence were unable to clear a corner properly and the ball fell for Niila Fischer whose shot was brilliantly touched onto the post by van Veenendaal and bounced away from two oncoming Swedish players.
Five minutes later, a corner at the other end also resulted in a near miss. Sherida Spitse's kick picked out Miedema at the far post where her firm header looked destined for the net but this time, it was Hedvig Lindahl who pulled off an excellent save, touching the ball onto the bar.
Both teams made changes in an effort to try and break the deadlock but once again, found the defences in very good form. Sweden's closest attempt came through a Magdelina Eriksson free kick which landed on the roof of the net, while Shanice van de Sanden went close at the other end in injury time with a shot which was tipped past the post by Lindahl.
As the game went into extra time, the Netherlands began to assume control of matters, with van de Donk an increasing influence on the game, whilst the Swedish side were starting to look tired. As the 100th minute approached, the breakthrough moment came.
Spitse's pass was laid off by Miedema into the path of Groenen, who took a touch before drilling a low shot from the edge of the area inside the far post, giving Lindahl no chance.
Sweden tried hard to lift themselves after the setback but Dominique Bloodworth and Stefanie van de Gragt were in outstanding form in the centre of the Dutch defence, whilst Desiree van Lunteren was keeping up her impressive tournament.
The Swedes forced a couple of late corners, with Julia Zigiotti having a shot charged down but they could not find a way through. The Netherlands should really have wrapped matters up in injury time when van de Sanden shot wastefully wide when a pass to Miedema would have given her a simple tap in, but it wasn't to matter and after a worrying stoppage when Kosovare Asllani was stretchered off, Dutch celebrations could finally begin and a remarkable two years has seen them reach their second major Final in that time, and a meeting with the United States on Sunday.

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