Netherlands beat Sweden to reach maiden final

U.S. women’s national team defeats England in Women’s World Cup semifinal game

Netherlands took control from the start of extra-time and in the 99th minute, Jackie Groenen found space outside the box and the midfielder fired a low strike into the bottom corner.

Whether it was the occasion - both teams were attempting to reach the final for the first time, the sudorific conditions or, simply, two evenly-matched sides successfully negating each other's threats, neither team particularly sparkled.

Born in the Netherlands, the 24-year-old Groenen grew up in a small Belgian village in the province of Antwerp.

The reigning European champions, the Dutch are dreaming of winning a first World Cup in only their second appearance at the tournament.

Alyssa Roenigk is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and whose assignments have taken her to six continents and caused her to commit countless acts of recklessness.

Surprisingly, perhaps, it wasn't Holland she envisaged playing for at senior level. They already have a prize in a guaranteed place at their first Olympic Games next year in Tokyo. In the 71st minute, the fans got their wish when she replaced Beerensteyn on the right wing.

Netherlands defeated Sweden 1-0 on Wednesday night, to qualify for the final of this year's Women's World Cup in France.

"It will be a great game, they have good qualities, we have good qualities", said Netherlands striker Shanice Van Den Sanden.

The first of those was in 1974 - when the astonishingly skilled Johan Cruyff was the talk of world soccer.

Before she pulls on a red jersey, Groenen could become a world champion in orange by beating the defending champions.

There were minimal changes to the starting eleven of both teams from their previous triumphs.

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While the Lionesses were shaky at the back, suspect to errors and messy in their marking, the Oranje were tight and compact, allowing Sweden little to no opportunity in breaking them down.

But Cruyff mostly caught the eye because of his mesmerizing ball control, allied to his searing pace and twinkling feet.

Sweden's World Cup title bid was ended by one-touch Dutch magic. "It will be hard, but it really would be incredible to win".

The Dutch bested Italy 2-0 to reach the semi-finals, getting second-half tallies from the heads of defender Stefanie van der Gragt and forward Vivianne Miedema, the nation's all-time leading scorer.

"Many people have an opinion and that's fine".

"In extra time I felt we had more energy than they had and than got us through". "The ball just came really nicely, and I thought, 'Let's do this'".

A first World Cup goal for a player used to firsts.

The men and women have won the European Championship once. This despite wonderful players like Johan Cruyff, Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie. "Now, all we want is to make it to that final", she added.

The defending USA champions look to take their fourth title as they face off against the Dutch in their third straight final. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World. "But our players are really professional about it and that is the force of this team".

Groenen won gold medals during her judo career, now World Cup glory beckons.

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