By ROB HARRIS AP Global Soccer Writer
VALENCIENNES, France (AP) — Vivianne Miedema and Stefanie van der Gragt headed in free kicks to send the Netherlands into its first Women's World Cup semifinal with a 2-0 victory over Italy on Saturday.
In the sweltering heat of the northeast French city of Valenciennes, the set-piece specialists of the tournament made the most of Sherida Spitse's deliveries to secure victory for the European champions.
Miedema nodded in from Spitse's delivery from the left side in the 70th minute to claim her 61st goal in 80 appearances for the Netherlands — and the forward is still only 22.
Ten minutes later, van der Gragt powered in a towering header when Spitse swung in a free kick from the right.
The Dutch have made the semifinals in only their second World Cup appearance, having reached the round of 16 in 2015. They will play Germany or Sweden in the semifinals on Wednesday in Lyon, a day after England plays the United States in the same stadium.
The Netherlands has also now secured a place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, as has England, which organizes the British team.