Women's World Cup round-up: Italy reach last 16
Last Updated: 26/06/19 10:34am
Italy beat China 2-0 to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Women's World Cup as their dream return to the tournament after a 20-year absence continued.
Valentina Giacinti and Aurora Galli netted either side of the interval to set up a meeting with the Netherlands, who beat Japan 2-1.
Italy have made it to the last eight of the Women's World Cup only once, in the inaugural edition in 1991 when the group phase directly led to the quarter-finals.
China, the 1999 runners-up, enjoyed a good spell before the break but failed to make it count as Italy keeper Laura Giuliani made some good saves.
Italy were focused from the outset and were rewarded after 15 minutes as Giacinti started and finished the move for the opener.
She broke down the right flank and her cross was met by Barbara Bonansea, who played in Elisa Bartoli.
The full-back's attempt was parried by China keeper Peng Shimeng into the path of Giacinti, who had followed up to stab home from close range.
China had a couple of chances through Wang Yan, but Italy 'keeper Giuliani stayed alert to preserve her team's lead, as the pressure on her goal increased thanks to some fine creative play by Wang Shuang.
Italy, however, regained the momentum early in the second half when Galli, who had replaced the injured Cristiana Girelli in the first half, found the back of the net with a low strike in the 50th minute.
China pushed to find a breakthrough but Italy's back four were largely untroubled as they kept their opponents at bay until the final whistle.
Meanwhile, Lieke Martens' netted a last minute penalty to send the Netherlands through to the last 16 in a game that Japan created more than enough to win.
Martens had opened the scoring for the Dutch when she steered home from a corner via a deflection off Yuika Sugasawa.
Japan equalised through Yui Hasegawa, who clipped a clever finish home after a flowing move which epitomised the free-flowing attacking football on show from Japan.
Hina Sugita hit the bar and Yuka Momiki went close before Martens netted from the spot after Saki Kumagai's unfortunate handball.