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Netherlands reach first ever semi-finals of the women's World Cup

FOOTBALL By AFP | June 30th 2019 | 1 min read
Netherlands' Danique Kerkdijk and Italy's Valentina Giacinti after the match. [Reuters]

The Netherlands reached the semi-finals of the women's World Cup for the first time in their history yesterday after beating Italy 2-0 in Valenciennes.

The Dutch will travel to Lyon to face either Germany or Sweden, who played later in Rennes yesterday, in the last four, thanks to fine headers from Vivianne Miedema and Stefanie van der Graght in the final 20 minutes.

Both teams had complained about the scheduling of the match in the middle of the afternoon during a punishing early summer heatwave that is sweeping Europe.

However, it was the Dutch who responded best to the on-pitch humidity, with temperatures creeping over 30 degrees Celsius, completely dominating the second half in an impressive display that will give the Germans and Swedes pause for thought.

The best chance of an error-strewn opening period fell to Italy's Valentina Bergamaschi, who found herself with enough time to bring down and finish Barbara Bonansea's flick on in the 18th minute but instead poked a weak half-volley straight at Sari van Veednendaal.

Bergamaschi then turned provider for the Italians seven minutes before the break, laying on Valentina Giacinti only to see her AC Milan teammate scuff a presentable opportunity wide.

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