Maiden semi place not enough for France coach

Diacre wants her team to go all the way after they break Dutch resistance with 1-0 win

AFP July 24, 2022


France coach Corinne Diacre said Les Bleues are not satisfied with just breaking new ground by reaching the semi-finals for the first time at a Women's Euro after beating defending champions the Netherlands 1-0 after extra-time on Saturday.

Eve Perisset's penalty on 102 minutes finally broke the Dutch resistance in Rotherham to set up a semi-final clash with Germany on Wednesday.

But the scoreline did not do justice to the gulf in class between the sides as France were frustrated for 90 minutes by the brilliance of young goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar.

"We've reached a new level for us tonight but that's not the end," said Diacre, who had been fiercely criticised for her part in France's quarter-final exit on home soil at the World Cup three years ago. "We are looking to reach the final."

Defeat rounded off a difficult tournament for the Dutch, who had been weakened by injuries to key players and coronavirus cases.

Vivianne Miedema was fit to return after she missed the group stage wins over Portugal and Switzerland due to Covid.

However, the Arsenal striker looked well short of match fitness as one of the world's best players struggled to have any meaningful impact on the game.

France scored five in the first half of their opening game against Italy and could easily have repeated that feat in the opening 45 minutes.

The Netherlands lost veteran goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal for the rest of the tournament to a shoulder injury in their opener against Sweden, but Van Domselaar has shone in her absence.

The 22-year-old had made just one international appearance prior to Euro 2022, but now looks certain to keep her place as the Dutch number one going forward.

"I just told her that was the best goalkeeping performance at a Euros since Nadine Angerer in 2013 and she won a Ballon d'Or that year," said Netherlands coach Mark Parsons on Van Domselaar. "Tonight she was world class."

France were also guilty of wastefulness in front of goal as they missed the predatory presence up front of the injured Marie-Antoinette Katoto.

That profligacy could still prove costly as Diacre's side were forced to play an extra 30 minutes on top of having two fewer rest days than Germany for the semi-final.

"We would like to have scored earlier but we were up against an incredible Dutch goalkeeper," added Diacre.

"When you win you always recover faster. That's the schedule, we've known about that form the start."

Kadidiatou Diani and Delphine Cascarino were first to test Van Domselaar before Cascarino then fired against the post from outside the box.

Stefanie Van der Gragt then twice rode to the Netherlands' rescue with goal line clearances to deny Melvine Malard and Grace Geyoro as France bombarded the Dutch goal without reward.

Miedema had to wait 55 minutes for a sight of goal and the Netherlands' all-time record goalscorer would have expected to do better when she volleyed over when unmarked from a corner.

Soon it was Van Domselaar who was back in the firing line, though, as Wendy Renard turned away in disbelief when her looping header was clawed away by FC Twente 'keeper with the last act of the 90 minutes.

France, though, refused to be denied a place in the last four of a women's European Championship for the first time.

Diani's pace took her away from Dominique Janssen, who dived in with a desperate lunge to halt the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

Croatian referee Ivana Martincic initially thought Janssen got a touch on the ball, but corrected her decision once shown a replay.

Van Domselaar still nearly denied France as she got finger tips to Perisset's penalty, but was finally beaten.


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