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Victories for Spain and Sweden set up mouthwatering World Cup semi-final tie

Spain celebrate following their extra time win at the Women's World Cup quarterfinal soccer match against the Netherlands, 11 August 2023
Spain celebrate following their extra time win at the Women's World Cup quarterfinal soccer match against the Netherlands, 11 August 2023 Copyright Alessandra Tarantino/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Alessandra Tarantino/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews
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Spain were made to wait until extra time to defeat the Netherlands 2-1, while a strong performance from Sweden proved too much for title hopefuls Japan.

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It's official! The first of two Women's World Cup semi-final clashes has been confirmed, as Spain and Sweden saw off competition from the Netherlands and Japan, respectively, to set up a mouthwatering match-up in Aukland next Tuesday.

Despite a dominant performance throughout, Spain left it late to defeat the Netherlands 2-1 in the Women's World Cup quarter-final tie and move one step closer to next Sunday's final in Sydney. 

Spain produced a fine performance to beat title contenders Japan 2-1 at Auckland's Eden Park. 

It was Spain's teenage super-sub Salma Paralluelo who came off the bench to net a 111th-minute winner, securing her country's place in a World Cup semi-final for the first time.

Supporters at the Wellington Regional Stadium in New Zealand were made to wait until the 80th minute before the deadlock was broken. Mariona Caldentey struck home a penalty after VAR judged the Netherlands' Stefanie van der Gragt to have handled the ball in the box.

The Dutch defender quickly made amends for her error, by rifling home an equaliser in stoppage time. 

But Van der Gragt's side, runners-up in 2019, were left to rue missed chances in extra time when Juventus forward Lineth Beerensteyn blazed her shot over the bar from close range with the score level. 

VAR ruled out a first-half goal from Spain's Esther Gonzalez and overturned a penalty decision for the Netherlands after the break.

Sweden break Japanese hearts

After a stunning 3-1 victory over Norway in the last-16, Japan had been touted as real contenders for this year's World Cup trophy.

But goals from Sweden's Amanda Ilestedt Ilestedt and Filippa Angeldahl were enough to set up a mouth-watering semi-final tie against Spain on Tuesday 15 August.

After falling two goals behind, Japan had the chance to pull one back in the 76th minute but failed to take advantage of a controversial penalty decision, as Riko Ueki's shot struck the bar.

West Ham's Honoka Hayashi, however, did manage to take her opportunity 11 minutes later after following up Aoba Fujino's free-kick which bounced back off the woodwork.

But it wasn't enough to prevent Sweden from holding on to victory and move one step closer to their first World Cup final since 2003.

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