The quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup have now been decided, with it being confirmed Italy set to face the Netherlands in Valenciennes on Saturday.
Italy were able to find a way past China in Tuesday’s knockout stage game but they needed to ride their luck at times, ending the match with fewer shots and significantly less possession.
Fellow quarter-finalists Holland relied on a late strike from Lieke Martens to overcome Japan at Roazhon Park, with goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal saving their skin on more than one occasion throughout the game.
Here’s a quick rundown of everything you might have missed on Tuesday.
Italy 2-0 China
It didn’t take long for Italy find the back of the net against China, but Valentina Giacinti’s strike was rightly ruled out for an offside.
Milena Bertolini’s didn’t have to wait long for a second bite at the cherry when the ball broke loose inside the penalty area, offering Giacinti the chance to break the deadlock which she did with a powerful left-footed strike into the near corner.
China had more than their fair share of chances throughout the game, but their first opportunity presented itself when Wang Yan picked the ball up from distance, only to see her long-range effort tipped over the crossbar by Laura Giuliani.
It was a battle of the goalkeepers throughout and China’s Shimeng Peng was once again their stand out performer, keeping Valentina Bergamaschi out with an outstanding save in the closing stages of the first half.
Peng was helpless to stop substitute Aurora Galli from doubling their lead, however, as the 22-year-old sent an inch-perfect drive from outside the penalty right into the corner of the net.
China were forced to come out to try and overturn the game, but despite continuing to create chances their frustrations grew and they were wasteful in the final third, allowing Italy to see out the match with relative ease.
Netherlands 2-1 Japan
Ayaka Yamashita was called into action early on to stop the clinical Vivianne Miedema from breaking the deadlock, but Japan’s goalkeeper was helpless to keep Holland from scoring the opening goal of the match.
Lieke Martens was left unmarked from a corner kick and drifted into space at the near post, flicking a low cross with the outside of his boot and into the far corner of the net via a deflection off the defender.
Chances came for both sides throughout the remainder of the first-half, but only Japan’s Yui Hasegawa was able to make the difference by dinking the ball over Van Veenendaal after a brilliant team move.
The Netherlands were forced to ride their luck in the second half as they faced an onslaught from Japan, who like China earlier in the day were unable to take their host of opportunities, coming closest with a curling effort which crashed off the crossbar.
Things then went from bad to worse for Japan, as Saki Kumagai was harshly penalised for a handball with just a few seconds left on the clock.
Martens stepped up to take the responsibility and sent Yamashita the wrong way from 12 yards, sending the Dutch into pandemonium as five minutes of added time was announces.
There wasn’t long left, but Japan still had an opportunity to level the scoreline in dramatic circumstances, only to see Hina Sugita’s effort cleared off the line.
The Netherlands held out for the remainder of the match to book their place alongside Italy in the quarter-final stages of the Women’s World Cup, rounding off another exciting day of knockout football in France.