Thursday 18 July 2019

Netherlands set up quarter-final clash with Italy after late win over Japan

Last 16: Netherlands 2 Japan 1; Italy 2 China 0

Netherlands' Lieke Martens, right, scores from the penalty spot during the Women's World Cup round of 16 win over Japan at Roazhon Park, in Rennes, France. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Netherlands' Lieke Martens, right, scores from the penalty spot during the Women's World Cup round of 16 win over Japan at Roazhon Park, in Rennes, France. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Julien Pretot

The Netherlands reached the women's World Cup quarter-finals for the first time when Lieke Martens's last-gasp penalty earned them a 2-1 victory against Japan on Tuesday night.

Martens put the Dutch in front after 17 minutes, only for Yui Hasegawa to level on the stroke of halftime, but the forward sent the European champions through with a spot kick in the last minute.

Japan, who hit the woodwork twice, dominated the second half but lacked a finishing touch.

The Netherlands, taking part in only their second women's World Cup, will play Italy in Valenciennes on Saturday after the Azzurre beat China 2-0 earlier on Tuesday.

Italy beat China 2-0 to qualify for the quarter-finals of the women's World Cup in convincing fashion as their dream return to the tournament after a 20-year absence continued.

Valentina Giacinti and Aurora Galli netted either side of the interval to set up a meeting with the Dutch.

Italy players celebrate after the Women's World Cup Round of 16 win over China at the Stade de La Mosson, Montpellier, France. Photo: REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Italy players celebrate after the Women's World Cup Round of 16 win over China at the Stade de La Mosson, Montpellier, France. Photo: REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Italy have made it to the last eight of the women's World Cup only once, in the inaugural edition in 1991 when the group phase directly led to the quarter-finals.

China, the 1999 runners-up, enjoyed a good spell before the break but failed to make it count as Italy keeper Laura Giuliani made some good saves.

"It's an incredible result in a difficult game. Today was not a great match, but football is not just that... the girls gave everything," said coach Milena Bertolini.

"Reaching the quarter-finals is a huge satisfaction. Now we need the warmth of the Italians, because the more we go on, the more the level increases."

"We've done a good job. We need to do much better. We couldn't win the game and I apologise to all the Chinese fans," said China coach Jia Xiuquan.

"We understood Italy very well and it was a good game. This is football. Whoever makes mistakes first, has to pay."

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