The Netherlands made sure of their place in the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship semi-finals in impressive fashion, maintaining their 100% record with a 2-0 victory against a Spain side now eliminated after finishing third in Group B.
Needing to avoid a four-goal defeat to guarantee their passage, Hesterine de Reus's side's spot in Wednesday's last-four matches never really looked in doubt. Ultimately two goals in two first-half minutes – including a memorable effort from Merel van Dongen – saw them through at a canter, ending Spanish hopes of the victory they needed to pip France to second spot. The Jong Oranje will now meet holders England in three days' time.
Having scored nine unanswered goals against France and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Netherlands were always favourites to go through – the question was whether Spain would join them. Angel Vilda Serrano's team certainly started brightly, bossing possession even if clear-cut chances were at a premium until just after the half-hour, when María Victoria Losada had a shot which was well saved by Roxanne van den Berg. That was as good as it got, however.
Within four minutes they were behind, Van Dongen letting fly with a blistering effort from all of 25 metres. It was a sucker punch and Lieke Martens soon delivered the knockout blow as she rose to head in Mauri van de Wetering's pinpoint cross from the right flank for her fourth goal of the tournament. The lead afforded De Reus the luxury of resting players as she brought on Shanice van de Sanden for Tessa Oudejans, and it took a fine block from Sandra Paños to prevent the left midfielder making it 3-0.
Spain refused to lie down and right winger Marta Corredera almost capped her own impressive performance with a goal 11 minutes before full time, but her effort came crashing back off the crossbar. Her side's aspirations are therefore over for another year. As for the Netherlands, they have every reason to approach Wednesday's semi-final against England with huge confidence.
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