by Nathan Edwards (25/7/22).
Above: France show their delight at making the Euro 2022 Semi-Finals. Photo: Euro 2022.
It took until extra time for this end-to-end heavyweight clash between France and the Netherlands to reach its conclusion when Ève Périsset converted her penalty in the 102nd minute to put an end to the Dutch’s title defence.
With Les Blues now turning their attention to a semi-final match against Germany who so often conquer this Championship, winning eight of the 12 Euros. Here are five things we learned from yesterday’s game at the New York Stadium.
French History Makers
France have made a habit of spectacularly falling short at the quarter-final stages in international tournaments, in fact, they have headed home in the last five international competitions at this stage.
It started with a penalty shootout defeat to Denmark at Euro 2013. After drawing Les Blues level in the 90 minutes from the spot Louisa Cadamuro missed the opening penalty, allowing the Danes to progress. It was followed up two years later with another heartbreaking defeat on penalties to Wednesday’s opponents, Germany. Along with these quarterfinal losses, it has repeated itself in the Olympics in 2016, Euro 2017, and the 2019 World Cup.
But with two of those exits, being at the hands of a penalty shootout, Périsset’s coolly converted spot-kick was a sweet way to put an end to Les Blues’ quarterfinal curse.
Despite both sides being evenly ranked, France dominated the fixture peppering the Dutch backline and creating 33 efforts on goal, and the only penetrative attempt was from 12 yards.
Blue wave after blue wave attacked the Oranje defence, who managed to keep them at bay for the majority of the match. Kadidiatou Diani was the first to be denied by Daphne van Domselaar after a rapid counterattack unleashed Diani through.
Even when they managed to work their way past the Dutch shotstopper, Stefanie van der Gragt’s knee came to rescue Melvine Malard’s shot from hitting the back of the net.
Corinne Diacre’s side were deserved winners and the fact that it went to an added 30 minutes, is a credit to the robust Netherland’s defence and shoddy, wastefulness from France’s attackers.
The Dutch Wall
One of the reasons France failed to convert their 33 chances into more than one goal was down to van Domselaar.
At the start of the tournament, the 22-year-old was the backup to Sari van Veenendaal, but the first-choice goalkeeper picked up a campaign-ending injury against Sweden, allowing van Domselaar to step in.
And not only did she step in, but she also stepped up in big moments through the quarterfinal match. She made ten saves throughout the 120 minutes, more than her opposite number, Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, had done during the whole competition.
The most impressive save came in the dying moments of normal time, denying Wendy Renard’s header with a finger-tip save. The FC Twente goalkeeper also made two stops in quick succession earlier on in the game, flying across the goal to cover Dominique Janssen’s potential own goal and Charlotte Bilbault’s long shot.
Vivianne Miedema Felt The Blues
Mark Parsons headed into Saturday’s match with the added bonus of having the country’s top goalscorer available for selection. Miedema missed the last two group stage games after testing positive for COVID-19.
But it was apparent throughout her return that she wasn’t able to be her usual-menacing self. Her underwhelming cameo saw her play 120 minutes and fire one shot off target, as France’s backline had a much quieter evening compared to the Oranje’s four.
Playing 120 minutes without having to overcome the hangover of coronavirus is difficult enough; even for one of the world’s best players, it was a step too far.
Facing Familar Foes
And after all, France managed to tame Arsenal’s superstar, penetrate the Oranje defence and break the quarter-final hoodoo, they will now need to do it all over again against Germany.
The Germans beat a difficult Austria side 2-0 and having an extra two days rest compared to France, they head into it with the advantage.
But it will be down to France to become the first team in this competition to score past Germany and knock out the most successful nation in this competition, in what will be a tasty battle between two old rivals.