- Swedes stun Germany to set up semi-final with the Netherlands
- Dutch had beaten Italy to reach the last four for the first time
- Reaction and more: #ITANED and #GERSWE Live Blogs
Just like its heatwave-hit host country, the FIFA Women's World Cup™ is starting to sizzle as the semi-finals approach. A star-studded last-four line-up now awaits in Lyon after the Netherlands and Sweden joined England and USA in securing their spots.
The Swedes go through as the quarter-finals' surprise packages, having come from behind to beat Germany - and ended a 24-year wait for a win over the two-time champions.
The Dutch had earlier qualified for the last four for the first time thanks to soaring second-half headers from Vivianne Miedema and Stefanie van der Gragt, ending Italy's impressive run. Already in uncharted territory, the queens of Europe will now be dreaming of becoming champions of the world.
Team Reporter analysis
Italy gave everything they had in this quarter-final and there was nothing between them and the Dutch in a tight first half. In the second period, however, emotions seemed to get the better of Le Azzurre, while the European champions' experience and clinical finishing shone through. Ultimately, Italy have come one step short of a historic semi-final place, but they return home as one of the most uplifting success stories of this World Cup. They will be welcomed home as heroines, and deservedly so.
"We want to make history", Lieke Martens told FIFA.com earlier this week. And make history they did. The 2-0 win over Italy in Valenciennes might have appeared more comfortable on the scoreboard than it was on the pitch, but it was never going to be easy - especially in such warm conditions. For the Oranjeleeuwinnen, reaching the semi-finals - in just their second Women's World Cup - is a truly momentous achievement. And they are now heading not only to Lyon for the last four but also on to Tokyo, with today's win having confirmed their spot at next year's Olympics - a tournament they've never before competed in. Making history is becoming a habit for Martens and Co.
Team Reporter analysis
Despite a group stage that ended without a goal having been conceded, defensive frailties - especially when defending long balls - had been on show previous and were ruthlessly punished today. Sweden didn't outplay Germany as such, but it was striking that Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's side had so much trouble creating scoring opportunities after the opening 20 minutes. Not all is lost for this German team, as we have seen some promising young players emerge, but issues exposed during this tournament will definitely need to be addressed.
For the first time in 24 years, Sweden have managed to defeat Germany in a major competition! That’s no small feat, and illustrious generations have failed to manage it. But the Swedes' Class of 2019 vowed that they could end the 'curse' and they showed on the pitch that they meant business. Incisive through balls and smart runs were vital in the heat in Rennes, with Sweden identifying that weak spot in the German defence at an early stage. With Jakobsson and Blackstenius living up to expectations and delivering under pressure. Sweden will now believe that they can beat anyone in this tournament.