LYON, France (Reuters) - The Netherlands reached the women’s World Cup final with a 1-0 extra-time win over Sweden on Wednesday achieved without their star player, midfielder Lieke Martens, for much of the game.
But the Barcelona winger said she was still hopeful that despite continuing pain from a toe injury she could be fit to face the United States in Sunday’s final.
Martens, who won the FIFA Best Women’s Player award in 2017 and is considered one of the key players in this tournament, was a doubt before the game.
Although she started, the 26-year-old was unable to make her usual contribution and went off at a halftime but she said she had faith in her chances of recovery.
“Of course. As a player you always want to play in one of the biggest games of your career and this is one of the biggest ones,” she said of her country’s first ever World Cup final.
“I am hopefully going to play. I am going to do the recovery and I really believe in the medical staff and that something can happen, so let’s see every single day, how it goes,” she said.
Martens said she had been suffering with the toe and had no hesitation in making way for substitute Jill Roord.
“It didn’t feel good and for me then it is easy -– if I don’t feel 100 percent then I want another girl to come in and give 100 percent, that’s easy,” she said.
“The team is better with another girl playing at 100 percent than me playing at I don’t know what kind of percent.”
Martens’s injury was picked up during her goal celebration after she scored the winner in the second round against Japan last Tuesday.
She has not been involved in full training since but did manage to play a full match as the Dutch beat the Italians 2-0 to advance to the last four.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Clare Fallon