France will face Germany in the Euro 2022 semi-finals after Eve Perisset’s penalty in extra time secured a 1-0 victory over holders the Netherlands.
Defender Perisset, who last month joined Chelsea from Bordeaux, converted a spot-kick awarded via VAR in the 102nd minute in Rotherham as Corinne Diacre’s side finally managed to find a way past Dutch goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar.
Les Bleues created numerous chances during normal time but had been left frustrated by some fine saves by Van Domselaar, great goal-line clearances by defender Stefanie van der Gragt and near misses that included Delphine Cascarino hitting the post.
Perisset’s strike from 12 yards sent them through to a meeting with eight-time winners Germany in Milton Keynes on Wednesday, their first ever Euros semi-final, after making quarter-final exits at each of the last three editions as well as the last two World Cups and the 2016 Olympics.
The Netherlands – winners in 2017 on home soil and 2019 World Cup runners-up under current England boss Sarina Wiegman, now with Englishman Mark Parsons in charge – saw their title defence come to an end.
They struggled to make much of an impact in attack, despite having record scorer Vivianne Miedema back in action after two games out following a positive coronavirus test.
As France took the early initiative, captain Wendie Renard headed wide and Kadidiatou Diani surged into the area and had a shot saved by Van Domselaar, who then did well to dive and push away a sliced attempted clearance by her team-mate Dominique Janssen.
Further efforts from France included strikes from Charlotte Bilbault and Cascarino being dealt with by Van Domselaar, Sandie Toletti blazing into the stand from a good position and Melvine Malard striking wide.
They subsequently went the closest yet to making their pressure count as Cascarino’s 27th-minute drive came back off the inside of the post with Van Domselaar beaten, before being thwarted by a remarkable pair of goal-line blocks from Van der Gragt a few minutes apart, Malard and Grace Geyoro the players denied.
Having shown hardly any attacking threat in the first half, the Netherlands had more joy early in the second, with Miedema getting on the end of one corner but unable to direct her effort on target, and Van der Gragt meeting another with a header that was gathered by Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.
Van der Gragt was then on hand once again at the other end to clear a Renard header, and moments later the French skipper saw another headed effort kept out by a fine Van Domselaar save.
The closing stages of normal time saw France push for a winner but Geyoro headed wide at the far post and Van Domselaar then produced further heroics to keep out a Cascarino shot and another Renard header.
French substitute Selma Bacha sent a shot over early in extra time before Diani went down in the box under a challenge from Janssen.
The incident went to a VAR check, with Croatian referee Ivana Martincic watching it back on the pitchside monitor before pointing to the spot and – after the Dutch voiced their unhappiness – Perisset stepped up to slam the ball past Van Domselaar and France, finally, into the lead.
Another substitute, Ouleymata Sarr, subsequently fired two efforts wide in quick succession as Diacre’s side threatened to add another in the second half of extra time.