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Euro 2017

Netherlands dismantle Sweden, advance to EURO semifinals; GER-DEN pushed back

Shanice van de Sanden (photo:  UEFA)

Shanice van de Sanden (photo: UEFA)

After impressing the home fans with three straight wins to finish top of Group A, the Netherlands’ began marching through the knockout round of the European Championships with an authoritative, 2-0 victor over Sweden. The win leaves the hosts two victories from the top of the mountain with a Thursday semifinal against the winner of England-France as the next hurdle. In the nightcap, Germany and Denmark were postponed due to intense rain that left field conditions unplayable. The match has been rescheduled for Sunday at 6 a.m. EDT.

Lieke Martens gave the Netherlands the lead in the 33rd minute and Vivianne Miedema collected her first four the tournament a few minute past the hour to account for the scoring. Miedema also won the free kick that set up the opening goal when Jessica Samuelsson got her right along the edge of the 18. Sweden protested, but the only argument would have been from the other side to say the foul was actually inside the box.

Martens made the placement a moot point when she picked out a hole in Sweden’s defensive wall that somehow keeper Hedvig Lindahl was not covering either. The shot was taken low and straight with Lindahl taking her first half step to the wrong side. The already vocal support from the home crowd took it to a new level as Martens’s shot found its way in.

Sweden nearly leveled in the opening two minutes of the second half. Kosovare Asllani played Fridolina Rolfo in on the left side of the box and she got off a clean shot that rolled wide of the far post. It was one of the only chances Sweden would have beyond long balls played to the hard-working Stina Blackstenius who was well defended throughout and unable to create anything to get Sweden back into the match.

After nearly doubling the lead when she sent a header high, Miedema got on the end of a sublime counterattack to double the lead. Martens began it by playing a suberb ball over the top that switched the point of attack and found Shanice van de Sanden in stride on the right. With the Swedish defense stretched, van de Sanden played the ball back central where Miedema was waiting to tap it in for 2-0.

In the 81st minute, Sweden thought they had an equalizer through captain Lotta Schelin but the offside flag was up. It was the only time the Swedes looked truly dangerous in their efforts to claw back into the match. The final whistle also meant the end of Pia Sundhage as the country’s head coach. Sundhage hit the winning penalty for Sweden to win the inaugural EURO event in 1984 and later coached the United States to Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012 and the runner-up spot at the 2011 World Cup.

In five years with Sweden their best finish was an Olympic silver medal last year that included a win on penalties over the United States in the quarterfinals. Sweden were semifinalists at the 2013 EUROs and went out of the World Cup at the Round of 16.

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