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Saturday , September 26 2020

Miedema stars as Dutch seal last-16 spot

Ukraine’s Valerii Bondar raises the trophy in front of his team after winning the final match between Ukraine and South Korea at the U20 soccer World Cup in Lodz, Poland on June 15.Ukraine won 3-1 (AP)

Cameroon lose

VALENCIENNES, France, June 15, (Agencies): Vivianne Miedema scored twice to become The Netherlands’ all-time leading goalscorer as the European champions beat Cameroon 3-1 on Saturday to reach the last 16 at the Women’s World Cup.

Cameroon, playing The Netherlands for the first time in a competitive match, adopted a cautious approach at Stade du Hainaut, with five players in the back line and four in front of them for the majority of the game.

The tactics worked until a sweeping Dutch move in which Shanice van de Sanden’s inch-perfect cross found Arsenal forward Miedema, who powered home a thumping header in the 41st minute. Cameroon responded almost immediately as winger Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene timed her run perfectly to latch on to a long ball before beating goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal for an easy finish.

The Netherlands, who beat New Zealand in their opening match, were back on the front foot in the second half after a cleverly worked free kick allowed centre back Dominique Bloodworth to score her first international goal from close range.

Cameroon substitute Henriette Akaba came close to an equaliser in the closing stages before Miedema scored her second goal to put the result beyond doubt. It was Miedema’s 60th goal for The Netherlands as she overtook former striker Manon Melis to become their all-time top scorer.

“It is something special, something I’m only going to live once and it’s a special experience for me,” the 22-year-old Miedema said.

“It’s a World Cup – you score a goal, so I think you can cheer and be a little crazy about it.”

The Netherlands top Group E after winning back-to-back World Cup matches for the first time, before Canada’s evening kick-off against New Zealand in Grenoble.

“I’m glad we won. In a couple of stages we played better than the previous game but we struggled as well,” The Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman said.

“We are now qualified for the next round. But who is better as an opponent? Is it Japan, Sweden or England? I think it’s dangerous doing maths. Let’s just play the Canada game first.”

The Netherlands will meet Canada in their final group-stage match in Reims on Thursday, while Cameroon face New Zealand on the same day at Montpellier.In the celebratory moments after England advanced to the next round of the Women’s World Cup, coach Phil Neville gently kissed the head of forward Fran Kirby in recognition of her personal journey.

England’s 1-0 victory over Argentina came on the 11th anniversary of Kirby’s mother dying from a brain hemorrhage. “We’re a family,” Neville said. “Fran is a special person who misses her mum.”

Many of England’s players are at the World Cup carrying heavy emotions for the loved ones who supported their careers. Carly Telford was grieving her mother in Friday night’s victory. The goalkeeper’s mother died last year, and in Telford’s fourth trip to a tournament, she finally earned her first playing time.

“In the huddle at the end, we made reference to the fact that their mums were looking down on them,” Neville said, “and they were very proud of their performances.”

Twice more in the post-match celebrations on the Le Havre field, Neville went over to offer words of comfort to Kirby.

“We help each other,” Neville said.

Neville’s paternal instincts offered a snapshot of how the former Manchester United and England player has transformed the atmosphere around the squad in his 18 months on the job.

The sense of unity projected by Neville contrasts with the turmoil that engulfed predecessor Mark Sampson before he was ousted in 2017.

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