Netherlands beat Sweden to reach the Women's World Cup final
The Netherlands will face the United States in the final of the Women's World Cup, following a dramatic late goal against Sweden after extra time in their semifinal match on Wednesday.
In the 99th minute, Jackie Groenen scored the only and winning goal, with her wonderful strike into the bottom-left corner, securing the Dutch a spot in Sunday's final against the Americans.
Though the Netherlands is the reigning European Champion, the US women's national team may have seen little in this semifinal to concern them ahead of the title decider in the same stadium.
For World Cup pedigree, the finalists are poles apart: three-time winner US is facing a team ranked eighth in the world, which is in its first final and competing in just its second World Cup.
Whether it was the occasion -- both teams were attempting to reach the final for the first time, the sudorific conditions or, simply, two evenly-matched sides successfully negating each other's threats, neither team particularly sparkled.
But both goalkeepers, and the woodwork, played a part in a goalless 90 minutes as they held firm under aerial bombardment from the flanks and set-pieces.
The Netherlands' Sari van Veenendaal was the busier of the two in the first half, with the 29-year-old called into action because of the energy of Stina Blackstenius and Sofia Jakobsson.
The 29-year-old Jakobsson was at the heart of all that was good about Sweden's forward play, putting Blackstenius through early on only for her compatriot to hit straight at the goalkeeper.
Van Veenendaal flapped at a Jakobsson cross to send Dutch hearts racing but, ultimately, it was an uninspiring half.
In the 90th minute, with a rasping shot across goal, Van de Sanden forced a fine save from Lindahl but it was left to Groenen create history.
But the sight of Kosovare Asllani being carried off the pitch on a stretcher towards the end of the match, after being hit by the ball following an aerial duel, was a sour ending.
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