Women's World Cup: Netherlands 1-0 Sweden
Credit: Getty/Soccrates Images 

The European Champions will face holders the United States in Lyon on Sunday, after Jull Ellis’ side’s win over England.

Both sides looked to endure a nervy penalty shootout, before Jackie Groenen’s low crisp strike broke Swedes’ dreams of reaching another World Cup Final.

Story of the match

The semi-final encounter proved one of the dullest games of the tournament. With neither team looked likely to make a breakthrough in Lyon, instead the former Chelsea and Arsenal goalkeepers Hedvig Lindahl and Sari Van Veenendaal, both left their respective WSL sides, were arguably the best players on the pitch. But Groenen 20-yards low strike beat Lindahl in the 99th minute whose form in the World Cup had been a cause of concern.

Sweden’s were the brighter side in the entire first half and had their first chance which fell to Stina Blackstenius, who had scored during the tournament against Canada and Germany, Sofia Jakobsson glided a neat pass to the Linkopings forward overlapping on the right but her shot was straight at Van Veenendaal.

Van Veenendall routinely tipped over dangerous inswinging corners and instinctively saved with her foot, a close-range toe poke from Lina Hurtig shortly before halftime.

The match was far more opened up in the second half for both sides. Within 10 minutes of the second half, Sweden defender Nilla Fischer hit the post and Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema had her header tipped on to the bar through the fingertips of Lindahl.

The 36-year-old keeper, who most played for Chelsea in England, kept his nation in the tie as the Dutch side grew in confidence, particularly with the introduction of Shanice van den Sanden who flew down the right wing.

Lindahl tipped over a fierce strike from Van den Sanden during stoppage time. However, the Dutch side found a way to break Lindahl resistance by an exceptional quickfire strike from Groenen in the early period of extra time sealed Netherlands place into the final.

Takeaways from the match

Can the Netherlands really challenge the USA? This semi-final tie proved to be a cagey and tentative game. The question remains on how the Dutch side can cope against the USA, as their attacking potency from all areas, and their strength in depth? It does prove difficult to see the USA as the Netherlands could not match their performance levels against Italy in the previous round as they struggled to create opportunities during the first half.

Unlike the rest of the game, the Dutch proved to be the better side in extra time, and kept their nerve in the French humidity paid dividends as Groenen's effort from outside the box booked a final date with the United States - their first ever World Cup final.

It will be a difficult task to see past the USA retaining their trophy but another strong defensive display from the Dutch side may prove to be a worthy task ahead.  

Stand Out Player

Sari van Veenendaal - van Veenendaal opening saves in the first half were stops she would have been expected to make. However, her second half saves proved to be vital as it prevented Sweden from taking the lead when they were on top.

Despite the number of bodies in her own penalty area, she reacted quickly to her right to tip Fischer's effort with a superb palm away. She continued to show her resilience as she stood strong and was reliable throughout when Sweden were dominant from numerous corners and set pieces.   

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