Italy’s adventure in the Women’s World Cup came to an end with a 2-0 quarter-final defeat to two Netherlands headers.
The Azzurre brought Aurora Galli into the starting XI after her goal in the Round of 16 against China, but Italy were once again the underdogs against the reigning European Champions. Curiously, the game took place 19 years to the day since Italy beat Holland on penalties in the Euro 2000 semi-final, complete with Francesco Totti Panenka spot-kick.
Valentina Bergamaschi had a good chance early on, but couldn’t get enough power on to the chest and volley off the outside of the boot.
Shanice Van de Sanden failed to make the most of a rare Valentina Cernoia error in the box, while Valentina Giacinti’s strike nutmegged a defender, but whistled wide of the far post.
Sherida Spitse’s free kick from the edge of the box was easily smothered by Laura Giuliani, but the extreme heat at 15.00 local time made for a lot of mistakes and a sluggish tempo from both sides.
The Netherlands started to pile on the pressure after the restart, Giulani making a couple of saves on Lieke Martens, while on 58 minutes the Danielle van de Donk curler bounced off the crossbar.
A daisy-cutter of a Spitse free kick skimmed the far post and they finally got the breakthrough with a Vivianne Miedema header on a free kick looped into the far top corner.
The second goal was not dissimilar, as again the Azzurre gave away a cheap free kick that was punted into the box from a long way out for Stefanie van der Gragt’s header. Until this game, Italy had conceded only two goals in the tournament and those were penalties.
Substitute Daniela Sabatino almost pulled one back moments later, forcing a tough save from a tight angle. Italy over-achieved by topping a very tough group ahead of Brazil and Australia, then knocked out China, but the Dutch were one test too far.
Italy 0-2 Netherlands
Miedema 70 (N), Van Der Gragt 80 (N)