Last-gasp penalty sends Holland to quarters

THE ongoing controversy surrounding the handball rule continued at the Women’s World Cup as Holland were awarded a contentious late penalty to beat Japan and reach the quarter-finals.

Lieke Martens scored her second of the game to secure a 2-1 victory after it was adjudged that Japan captain Saki Kumagai had blocked a shot with her arm.

Yui Hasegawa had pulled Japan level following a cute opener from Martens, but it would be the interpretation of the handball law which was the talking point again at Rennes’ Roazhon Park.

Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema had an early effort blocked behind but the Dutch were ahead with 17 minutes on the clock as Martens’ clever back-heel found a way into the corner of the goal

Both sides created further chances in the second-half as an even contest appeared set for extra-time.

It was Japan who looked like finishing the game stronger, Hasegawa firing inches wide, Mana Iwabuchi hitting the side-netting and Hina Sugita hitting the crossbar.

But it would all prove to be for nothing as Holland secured their place in the last-eight and a meeting with Italy.

With two minutes remaining, Miedema’s shot hit Kumagai on the arm, which was down by her side, and referee Melissa Borjas pointed to the spot.

Martens kept her composure to convert from 12 yards but even then Japan pushed for a second equaliser as a goalmouth scramble was cleared by the Dutch, who held on to progress. – MailOnline

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