The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 drama did not cease in Rennes last night, as the Netherlands saw off Japan thanks to a 90th-minute penalty from Lieke Martens. It was another controversial decision, with Japan’s Saki Kumagai harshly ruled to have handballed. The European champions, who had led through a flicked finish from Martens before Yui Hasegawa replied in the first half, won 2-1 in a match that looked for a time to be heading Japan’s way.
It is now ten major tournament wins (without extra-time or penalties) in succession for the Dutch team, and they will face Italy in Valenciennes on Saturday afternoon, with seven of the eight quarter-finalists European teams. After the game, departing Arsenal defender (for VfL Wolfsburg) Dominique Bloodworth was joyous at the Oranje Leeuwinnen reaching the World Cup last eight for the first time. Here’s what she had to say.
On her emotions after the game:
Yeah, I feel really good, and I feel really tired! Those two are the emotions at the moment.
On withstanding Japan’s mounting pressure in the second half, which culminated in Hina Sugita hitting the crossbar:
We always have the belief in the team that we can do a lot of things. We noticed that things were really difficult; we were having a hard time with their offensive play and them stepping up their game. Luckily, they weren’t clinical enough. We got that penalty; that’s something that’s been very important in this tournament. It’s a relief that we could finish it in the 90 minutes.
On the Netherlands winning a tenth successive major tournament game and whether they now believe they really belong amongst the top teams:
Well I think that we haven’t really played our best game in the tournament so far, but just the belief in the team and the trust in the team, knowing that there’s always a chance that we’re gonna score a goal and we’re gonna win the game. That’s something that feels really good, and also playing at the back and having that confidence that the front is gonna put in a goal, that’s just really nice. I didn’t even know that we already have ten wins in a row, that’s amazing! It’s crazy.
On getting to go and see Germany’s Linda Dallmann in the crowd at the end, a close friend from their time at SGS Essen. (The Germany team were there to watch the game, as they prepare to face Sweden this Saturday in the same stadium):
Yeah, it was really nice, because I didn’t see her for so long. Now also I’m going to Germany to play for Wolfsburg, I stepped up my German as well! My German was so much better and I even got a compliment from them. I also saw my future teammates, which was really nice, to just say hi. It just felt like we were already teammates for years, so that’s something that I’m really looking forward to. It’s nice that we can also meet them in the semi-finals, so hopefully we will go to the next round and play them.