World Cup Round-up: Sweden and the Netherlands book semi-final spots as Olympic champions Germany stunned

Sat, Jun 29 2019

Barcelona's Stefanie van der Gragt (middle) scored the clincher for the Netherlands against Italy. Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick (ETPhotos)

Olympic champions Germany bowed out of the World Cup in Rennes on Saturday evening as Sweden came from behind to win 2-1 and book a semi-final with the Netherlands.

Goals in either half from Sofia Jakobsson and Stina Blackstenius saw the Swedes get revenge on the side that beat them in the final in Rio three years ago.

Lina Magull had fired Germany into an early lead and the tie looked set to be heading the way of the heavy favourites, but Sweden turned the tie around to emerge deserved victors.

In the early game, the Netherlands eventually saw off the challenge of Italy in Valenciennes thanks to goals in the final 20 minutes from Vivienne Miedema and Stefanie van der Gragt.

The surprise of the evening came in Rennes, however, as Germany were rocked by a Sweden side who had perhaps been written off following their defeat to the US in the group stages.

Germany, who had talisman Dzsenifer Marozsan back on the bench after she recovered from a broken toe sustained in the Group B opener against China, led from the 16th minute.

Magdalena Eriksson lost the ball on the edge of her own box and Sara Daebritz strode forward before cutting the Swedish defence open with a lateral pass for Magull.

The striker still had plenty to do, chipping the ball up with her first touch before volleying past Hedvig Lindahl despite losing her footing.

It took Sweden all of six minutes to respond and it was route one all the way as defender Linda Sambrandt played a hopeful ball over the top from deep in her own half.

 

Marina Hegering misjudged the flight of the ball and it became a footrace between Jakobsson and Carolin Simon that only the Swede was ever going to win, and she tucked the ball into the corner.

Sweden had a handful of chances to take the lead before the break as Germany couldn’t deal with their pace and directness, but the sides went in level.

 

Germany manager Martina Voss-Tecklenburg introduced Maroszan at half-time in a bid to turn the tide but she found herself 2-1 behind inside two minutes.

Jakobsson turned creator with a chipped cross from the right that was headed back across goal by Fridolina Rolfo.

The Bayern Munich striker’s header was brilliantly saved by Almuth Schult, but Blackstenius was there to tap in the loose ball.

Germany, who miss out on a chance to defend their Olympic crown as a result of the defeat, went close late on through Hegering but the Swedes held out for a merited victory.

 

In the sweltering north of France heat, the Netherlands gradually wore down a stubborn Italy side to book their place in the final four – and with it their own spot at the Olympics.

It took until the 70th minute for the Dutch, who came second in Ireland’s qualifying group and navigated a play-off with Denmark to qualify, to hit the front.

Naturally, it was their top scorer of all time, Miedema, who made the breakthrough as she met Sherida Spitse’s free kick with a glancing header.

Italy keeper Laura Giuliani had no chance as the Arsenal striker used the pace on the free kick to guide the ball into the far corner, her 61st goal in just 80 international games.

 

Spitse was the provider once more ten minutes later as a flat free kick from the opposite flank found van der Gragt, who towered above the pack to send a powerful header past Guiliani.

England take on the United States in the first semi-final on Tuesday evening while the Netherlands face Sweden the following. Both games take place in Lyon and kick off at 8pm Irish time.