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Italy's stunning run will grab the public's attention, says coach

 

Italian job: Ilaria Mauro (left) and Aurora Galli celebrate
Italian job: Ilaria Mauro (left) and Aurora Galli celebrate

By Simon Peach

Italy head coach Milena Bertolini believes her side are breaking new ground after they secured progression into the quarter-finals of the Women's World Cup with a 2-0 victory over China.

Valentina Giacinti and Aurora Galli struck in each half to set up a quarter-final clash with Holland on Saturday.

China were always up against it following Giacinti's early opener and are eliminated having scored just once in their four games in the finals.

Bertolini praised the quality of her side and wants the feelgood factor to continue both back home and in France.

"This squad is made up of girls who have a lot of quality," she said at her post-match press conference.

"They are good footballers and they are performing well here because of that. But there's a further aspect. They have a mission.

"Their mission is to try and have the Italian public to discover and appreciate the women's game.

"This aspect helps you because it allows you to find that extra energy and motivation.

"I really believe this side has allowed the women's game to break new ground back home. We can see that from the viewing figures, what we see in the press and from the messages we receive from back home."

Meanwhile, Lieke Martens' late penalty sent the Netherlands into the Women's World Cup last eight at the expense of Japan, who missed several chances in a 2-1 loss.

Martens gave the Dutch the lead when her backheel from a corner went in via a small deflection off Yuika Sugasawa.

Just before half-time Japan equalised through Yui Hasegawa, who fired in after a brilliant team move.

Hasegawa, Hina Sugita and Yuka Momiki went close before Martens fired in the winner after Saki Kumagai had handled. The Dutch will now play the Italians in Valenciennes on Saturday.

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