In its bid for a fourth Women’s World Cup title, the top-ranked United States will face the Netherlands, the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between the Netherlands and Sweden.
After two scoreless halves filled with cautious play on both sides, Netherlands defeated Sweden 1-0 in extra time in Lyon. A slick passing sequence ended in the 99th minute with Jackie Groenen driving a shot from outside the penalty area past goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.
The goal that broke the deadlock in a sweltering stadium set up a meeting between the European champions and the reigning world champions.
And it means that for the first time since 2003, the final will include two female coaches. With Jill Ellis coaching the U.S. and Sarina Wiegman in charge of the Netherlands, the run of three finals featuring a male coach comes to an end.
It was the first semifinal in the tournament’s history to go into extra time, CNN reported.
After a draining match, the Dutch now have one less day than the Americans to prepare for the title game and they will have to be more potent up front to overcome the athletic U.S.
The second semifinal was no match for the drama, tension and high energy of the previous night when the U.S. beat England 2-1. Wednesday’s game featured few scoring chances and was only lit up by the goalkeeping in regulation time — particularly in the second half.
A shot from Nilla Fischer was creeping into the net in the 56th minute until Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal tipped it onto the post.
It was the crossbar that denied the Dutch in the 64th minute when a header from Vivianne Miedema was pushed onto the frame by Lindahl’s fingertips.
But the goalkeepers wouldn’t be relied on for a penalty shootout.
Groenen, who in May became the first overseas signing for new English Women’s Super League team Manchester United, produced a moment of brilliance in the first half of extra time for her first goal of the tournament.
This year’s tournament marks the Netherlands’ first appearance in both the Women’s World Cup semifinal and the final.
Progress for the Dutch women has been rapid. They only debuted at the World Cup in 2015 — reaching the round of 16 — but followed it up by winning the European Championship on home soil in 2017.
The 8 a.m. PT final on Sunday – also in Lyon – will mark Americans’ third straight appearance in the World Cup title match.
England and Sweden will play the third-place match at 8 a.m. PT Saturday in Nice. For Swedish fans, the focus for now will be on the health of Kosovare Asllani, who was carried off on a stretcher late in the game.