With the first spot in the semifinals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup up for grabs, Spain faced the Netherlands in Wellington on August 11. With Danielle van de Donk ruled out through suspension and Alexia Putellas starting on the bench, both sides named weakened starting lineups for this crunch tie.
ESP: Coll; Batlle, Codina, Paredes, Hernández; Hermoso, Abelleira, Bonmatí; Caldentey, González, Redondo
NED: van Domselaar; Janssen, van der Gragt, Spitse; Groenen; Brugts, Egurrola, Roord, Pelova; Martens, Beerensteyn
La Roja found themselves with a golden opportunity to take the lead with mere minutes on the clock, as Esther González was granted space to jink into the box. Yet rather than thundering a powerful effort past Daphne van Domselaar, the forward opted for a tamer approach – edging ever closer to the goalkeeper before squaring for Alba Redondo. The duo weren’t quite on the same wavelength though, with the chance going amiss for the Spaniards.
Jorge Vilda’s side had certainly started on the stronger foot though, and another chance for Alba Redondo was squandered as the youngster blazed Aitana Bonmatí’s cut-back pass over the crossbar. Ten minutes later, another phenomenal chance for la Roja would present itself as Mariona Caldentey picked out Alba Redondo with a curling ball over the top of the Dutch defences – but Redondo’s initial effort was palmed onto the post by Daphne van Domselaar, and the forward’s rebounded effort suffered the same fate.
The Oranjeleeuwinnen’s first real chance came just before the half-hour mark, with Esmee Brugts delivering a stunning ball in from the left flank that seemed destined to be nodded towards goal by Lieke Martens – but the wing-back’s ball was just a little too high, curling marginally wide of the far post.
Spain thought their lead had finally arrived in the 37th minute though, having applied the majority of the pressure throughout the game thus far. Ona Batlle’s cross from the left flank picked out Alba Redondo – who opted to selflessly lay the ball off to Esther González from close range, but a VAR review found that the striker was fractionally offside as she received the ball.
Yet for all their pressure, Spain failed to find the breakthrough in the first-half – meaning a rollercoaster final period could potentially be followed by extra-time and a penalty shootout. This was the first tie in which the Netherlands hadn’t held the lead at half-time, and they came incredible close to conceding just seconds after play resumed, with Esther González’s strike flying inches wide of the woodwork.
The Oranjeleeuwinnen looked like a ticking time bomb waiting to self-destruct, with their defensive frailties exposed in the opening stages of the second half – but as the hour-mark rolled around, Andries Jonker’s side thought they had been handed a golden opportunity to open the scoring from the penalty spot. Bearing down on goal, Lineth Beerensteyn was barged to the ground by Irene Paredes, who was promptly shown a yellow card. The drama was far from over though, as a VAR review saw the French referee rescind that card and opt against awarding a penalty!
Spain looked to be rueing their missed chances though, and another opportunity was squandered by Teresa Abelleira as the match entered the final twenty minutes, with Teresa Abelleira firing a low drive straight into the arms of Daphne van Domselaar.
Jorge Vilda’s side were granted an opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot though as Stefanie van den Gragt blatantly committed a handball offence, sticking an arm out to divert Salma Paralluelo’s cross out for a goal-kick. A VAR review found her guilty though, allowing Mariona Caldentey to send an effort crashing past Daphne van Domselaar and into the back of the net, via a deflection off the left post.
Lineth Beerensteyn could quite easily have teed up one of her teammates for an equaliser merely moments later though, but selfishly saw her name written in lights – opting to take the shot on herself rather than squaring to Katja Snoeijs or Victoria Pelova. Her effort was saved with ease by Cata Coll though, ensuring the Spanish advantage held firm for a little while longer.
But as twelve minutes of injury time rolled around, it was Stefanie van der Gragt that made amends for her earlier error – latching onto Victoria Pelova’s through ball to smash a thunderous effort past Cata Coll to once again restore Dutch hopes of progression.
With neither side able to find the deciding goal in the remaining stoppage time, an additional thirty minutes were required. A neat pass from Lineth Beerensteyn in the right channel allowed Lieke Martens to register her first shot on target of the match, though it was easy for Cata Coll to collect.
Just moments after her introduction, Eva Navarro looked sure to tee up Jenni Hermoso – and while the striker was able to direct her header towards the bottom corner, Daphne van Domselaar remained alert and palmed it away from danger.
An early chance at the start of the second half of extra time saw Lineth Beerensteyn skew a must-score effort wide of the post – and just seconds after the Dutch forward wasted another opportunity, a rapid break allowed Salma Paralluelo to dart to the opposite end of the pitch and tuck an effort past Daphne van Domselaar, to hand Spain the lead once again.
The Oranjeleeuwinnen were presented with one final opportunity in the dying minutes through a corner, with Daphne van Domselaar venturing forwards – but the delivery came to nothing, and the referee’s whistle signalled the end of this quarterfinal encounter.
The Netherlands’s World Cup dreams have reached an abrupt end in Wellington, as Andries Jonker’s side will now head home following their elimination. Spain progress to the semifinals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, playing either Japan or Sweden on August 15. That match will kickoff at 9am UK time.