Euro 2022: France breaks new ground and reaches the first EM semi-final | Sports | German football and important international sports news | DW
France 1-0 Netherlands (after extra time)
(Périsset pen 102′)
New York Stadium, Rotherham
In the French film masterpiece La Haine, a character tells the story of a man falling from a skyscraper and as he falls to the ground repeats to himself, “So far, so good.” Any of the Dutch players who have seen Mathieu Kassovitz’s classic can probably relate: they lost to France for 101 minutes.
Yes, they kept a clean sheet for the whole 90 minutes. And yes, they forced an extension. So far, so good. But they were so far from France’s breakneck pace, so overwhelmed on the pitch that their defeat felt like an inevitability almost from the start.
They showed great will and no small amount of ingenuity to deflect the French attack on their goal for so long that it took them a penalty to break their brave resistance. But it doesn’t matter how you fall. This is how you land
Kadidiatou Diani is brought down from the penalty spot by Dutch defender Dominique Janssen.
France changes the record
France started the game energetically and created a chance for Grace Geyoro in the first minute through aggressive pressing and quick interaction. The hat-trick heroine of the opening game against Italy failed in her effort but it boded for the future.
France coach Corinne Diacre, who clashed with players and dropped some star names, said ahead of the game that she hoped it would be an interesting spectacle for fans. Their players certainly did their best to impress South Yorkshire’s 9,764 fans, but their purpose went well beyond entertainment. They had never advanced beyond the quarter-finals at a European Championship, a record that needed to be changed here and now. In fact, by this point they had fallen at the last three European Championships, two World Championships and the 2016 Olympics. It was high time for them to show that they could finally overcome this hurdle.
They should have been at least a goal clear by the 23rd minute when the ball rolled nicely down Sandie Toletti’s barrel and begged to be stroked into the net. But the midfielder couldn’t keep her composure.
Whether it was Kadidiatou Diani breaking through on the break or Delphine Cascarino hitting the post from distance, France showed how many different chances they could create, of course without doing anything as vulgar as naturally scoring .
This display of performance art reached its climax when they forced defender Stefanie van der Gragt to make not one, but two heroic saves on the goal line.
France captain Wendie Renard was a dominant figure in defence.
The Dutch lack the attack blow
Dutch coach Mark Parsons said his players would have to adapt to France’s tactics during the game. “It’s about spaces and the opponent decides what space is there or not. And then it’s up to us to take it or create it,” he said before the game. In fact, the far greater concern for his side was the way their opponents seemed to find space behind the Dutch midfield at will.
A lot has changed for the Dutch since their home win in 2017. Back then, a wild front three from Vivianne Miedema, Lieke Martens and Shanice van de Sanden tore through the opponents, especially in the knockout stages. But with Van de Sanden absent from the squad, Martens suffering from a foot injury and Miedema locked in her room for the last two games with Covid, their attack lacked the relentlessness that was his trademark five years ago.
Van Domselaar stars in the lead but ends up getting injured
As the game progressed, France’s threat increasingly came from their towering central defender and captain, Wendie Renard. Surely the most powerful default weapon in football, Renard’s head towers over any poor soul doomed to mark it. Renard’s head became the target of every cross. Looking for her 34th international goal and her first at Euro 2022, she forced Daphne van Domselaar into a save just after the hour.
Netherlands goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar made a series of excellent stops in just her fifth international cap.
But like all of France’s artisanal efforts, Renard’s header failed to break through. Until the final act of the 90 minutes, when it seemed for all the world that she had finally blown the Dutch dam, only for van Domselaar to miss the shot with sensational agility.
Finally, after nearly 100 minutes of football, Diani took another break. For the first time all night, van Domselaar wavered, unsure whether to come or not. Dominique Janssen, perhaps upset, dived in. After a VAR delay, France had a penalty and Eve Perisset planted the penalty in the corner of the net with all the anger gathered at her team’s multiple quarter-final failures.
“They had a great start to the tournament and have a lot of good attackers,” Janssen told DW after the game. “Obviously we got a bit lucky in some situations but in the end you feel like something could happen because you just need a good moment to actually change the game. But of course it is very disappointing.”
On Saturday evening, the French could have been forgiven for the nagging feeling that they had seen it all before. Once again they stepped onto the lawn of Rotherham’s New York Stadium, the arena that has hosted all four Euro 2022 matches to date. But that’s where any notion of deja vu ended. France finally made it to the semi-finals of the European Championship. Germany expects in Milton Keynes on Wednesday.
Edited by Michael DaSilva