Defending European champion Netherlands bested Italy 2-0 to advance to the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup 2019 for the first time ever.

After a somewhat lethargic first half amid the blazing sun heat at Stade du Hainaut, here, the Dutch squad lifted their game in the second on Saturday.

The Netherlands dominated possession — playing with the ball nearly 60 per cent of the time — and were relentless on the attack, reports Efe news.

Italy, the Cinderella team of the tournament, were unable to convert the handful of chances they created in the first 45 minutes and didn’t get so much as a whiff of the opposing goal after the restart.

The Italians found themselves forced to resort to fouls to disrupt the Dutch attack, picking up four yellow cards. And while goalkeeper Laura Giuliani handled the shots from open play, she finally conceded on set pieces.

Vivianne Miedema got her head to a strike from free-kick specialist Sherida Spitse to put the Netherlands ahead 1-0 in the 70th minute.

The second goal came 10 minutes later from Stefanie van der Gragt, again off a Spitse free kick.