Netherlands knockout South Africa – Equalizer Soccer

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Keith McInnes / SPP

The second day of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup knockout rounds started with the Netherlands defeating South Africa and will finish with the US women’s national team’s World Cup on the line against Sweden.

Couldn’t watch and need to know what the big story is? This is what happened on the second day of the World Cup Round of 16.

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Netherlands 2, South Africa 0

The Big Story: The Netherlands made it consecutive trips to the quarterfinals of the World Cup with a 2-0 victory over South Africa. Jill Roord gave the 2019 runners-up the lead in the 9th minute and Lineth Beerenstein–who was injured in the group stage–doubled the lead in the second half. The Netherlands will next face Spain but will do so without Danielle van de Donk whose second yellow card of the tournament means an automatic suspension.

The Big Moment: The second goal made the Dutch more comfortable and it came from Beerenstyn. It was a hopeful, left-footed shot from out wide that appeared to be an easy catch for Kaylin Swart but she missed it and then slammed both hands to the pitch as she watched her misplay roll into the goal for the backbreaker.

What it means: Defensive issues dotted both Netherlands goals. On the opener, Lieke Martins headed a corner kick towards the near post. Lebohang Ramalepe had it covered but her clearance popped up in the air and to her right allowing Roord to swoop in and easily head it home to make it 1-0.

Netherlands should be gaining confidence as they head to the last 8 having yet to concede a goal from open play. That’s not to say they didn’t give South Africa some chances. Thembi Kgatlanta specifically had many brilliant moments including one in the closing moments of the first half when she got in behind the Dutch defense and tested Daphne van Domselaar who was able to make the save and keep her side ahead into the half.

The short-term test for coach Andries Jonker will be to navigate the midfield battle without van de Donk. Spain will want to possess their way through the Netherlands’ crowded midfield and van de Donk is a key cog in keeping that from happening.

South Africa departs the country’s second World Cup in a much better position than its first. After being outscored 8-1 in three losses in 2019, they escaped their group this time with some of the wildest swings imaginable. The final swing was Kgatlana’s stoppage-time goal that sunk Italy and vaulted Banyana Banyana into the Round of 16. South Africa also lost two players to injury in the first half and thus were two subs and two sub windows down coming out of halftime. They showed some signs of late life but ultimately spent too much of the second half sitting back and allowing the Netherlands to casually knock the ball around as high as the start of the South African defensive territory. Next up is a trip to Cincinnati and Chicago where South Africa is scheduled to take on the US in a pair of September friendlies.

— Dan Lauletta

The Quarterfinals:

Spain vs. Netherlands on August 10 at 9 pm ET

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