The Women’s World Cup rolled on to the quarterfinals! The final eight entered with hopes of progressing forward and making history. The remaining nations were comprised of teams that were underdogs, or nations who had never won a World Cup before! Let’s take a look at who advanced!
Women’s World Cup Roundup Quarterfinals Day 1
Spain need extra time to win after late Netherlands’ equalizer
Spain has been one of the best teams in this tournament. Their ability to possess the ball is a joy to watch. They dominate their matches with the ball, and this was the case against the Netherlands with a spot in the semifinals on the line. Spain out possessed the Dutch 62%-38%, but they weren’t able to create a lot from that possession. They did produce 28 shots, but only eight were on target.
The Netherlands was without star player Danielle van de Donk against possession-heavy Spain, they were content to sit in and look to hit Spain on the counterattack through the speedy Lineth Beerensteyn. Both teams had their style of play, and it looked like nothing would separate them as the match was nil-nil entering the last 10 minutes.
That is when things changed. Spain won a penalty after a VAR check for a handball in the 81st minute; Mariona Caldentey was able to dispatch the chance. Spain led with nine minutes to go! As the match pushed on, the Netherlands pushed everything forward to find the tying goal. The Dutch player, Stefanie van der Gragt, handled the ball to give Spain a penalty by getting onto a through ball and smashing a shot home in the 90+1 minute. This one would need 30 extra minutes to decide a winner.
As the match went on, both sides had chances, but the biggest one came to the Dutch. Beerensteyn was played in on goal and fired a shot past an onrushing keeper, but the chance just narrowly missed! The Netherlands didn’t take advantage of their opportunity; Spain would. Spain created another great buildup and Jennifer Hermoso made an inch-perfect pass to Salma Paralluelo. She was able to dance on the ball and get a shot off that gave Spain the lead again. After the goal, the Dutch tried but could not get a second goal. Spain advanced, and the 2019 finalist Netherlands crashed out!
Sweden knockout big favorites Japan in stunning fashion!
Japan came into their World Cup quarterfinal against Sweden as the favorite to win the tournament based on the way they had performed. Sweden, the third-ranked team in the World, was coming off of dispatching the USA, and was clearly ready for the chance to make more history by beating Japan. This match was one that was even in many, many ways.
As the game started, it was clear that Japan was not going to revert to sitting back and hitting on the counter. They were going to try and use the ball to get past the Swedes who had a real height advantage over the Japanese. While this was probably the right move, it allowed Sweden to have some space to operate during their attacks. Sweden has benefited from set-piece dominance at this World Cup, and this would happen again in the quarterfinal.
A free kick to Sweden in the 32nd minute resulted in the opening goal. A ball was played into the box and was frantically blocked by Japan three times. After the chaos, Amanda Ilestedt was able to hit the ball home. That’s the defender’s fourth goal of the tournament and gave Sweden a surprising lead. On the other side of halftime, Sweden would double their lead. Another set piece was sent into the box, and VAR confirmed that there was a Japan handball. Filippa Angeldal stepped up and slotted home the pen. It was 2-0 with 40 minutes left to play.
Japan and Sweden were even in possession on the day. It was back and forth from the jump, but Sweden was taking advantage of their opportunities and Japan did not. Japan produced 11 shots but only three were on target. This team was used to converting on the chances they created, but really couldn’t on this day. They had a golden opportunity to get a goal back in the 76th minute through a penalty, but Riko Ukeki hit the crossbar. Japan was able to get one goal back in the 87th minute thanks to Honoka Hayashi being able to clinically put a shot home, but it was too little too late. Sweden continues their impressive run, while Japan fails to progress.
Sweden will take on Spain in the Semifinals of the 2023 Women’s World Cup!
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Mandatory Credit: AP Photo/Abbie Parr & AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino