Netherlands beat Japan 2-1 to qualify for the quarter-finals of Women’s World Cup on Tuesday, June 25th. The thrilling encounter was decided by a stoppage time penalty which was struck into the net by Lieke Martens to book the Netherlands a place in their first ever World Cup quarter-final.
The Dutch came close to taking the lead early in the game as Vivianne Miedema’s effort was deflected inches wide of the post.
Netherlands eventually scored in the 17th minute. Sherida Spitse’s corner was flicked into the net at the near post by Martens to put the European champions ahead. Yuikia Sugaswa almost equalised minutes later for the Japanese but saw her shot come off the inside of the post.
Japan equalised just before half-time with a beautiful well-worked goal. A lovely move was finished by Yui Hasegawa who slotted in to the net from Mana Iwabuchi’s pass.
Half-time score: Netherlands 1-Japan 1
The teams were evenly matched and playing high-quality football in a pulsating start to the second-half. Japan looked like they had the better stamina as the Dutch faded late on. Hasegawa fired an effort inches wide of the post in the 71st minute.
Hina Sugita fired against the crossbar in the 79th minute before substitute, Yuka Momiki, forced a great save out of goalkeeper, Sari Van Veenendal. Netherlands were hanging on when Momiki struck a shot inches over the bar in the 83rd minute.
The Dutch were given a penalty in the 89th minute after the referee had judged that Miedema’s shot had been blocked by the arm of Saki Kumagai. Martens stepped up and slotted the penalty into the bottom right corner for her second goal of the game.
Japan pushed for an equaliser in the final minutes but the Netherlands held on for the victory and will play Italy in their first ever World Cup quarter-final after the Italians beat China 2-0 earlier in the day.
Final score: Netherlands 2-Japan 1
AFP reported that the matchwinner, Martens, was delighted to achieve the historic feat. “It is history that we have made,” she said. “We are really proud about that but we are not done yet here. We are really looking forward to the next game and we hope we can surprise more," Martens added.