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Spain reach Women’s World Cup final with late winner against Sweden

Spain dramatically win in the dying seconds of their semifinal clash against Sweden to reach their first World Cup final in dramatic fashion

August 15 2023: Salma Paralluelo Spain celebrates the teams first goal during a FiFA Womens World Cup SemiFinal game, Japan versus Spain, at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. /CSM Auckland New Zealand – ZUMAc04_ 20230815_zma_c04_626 Copyright: xKimxPricex

In a nail-biting match that had fans on the edge of their seats until the final whistle, Spain emerged triumphant over Sweden to secure their first-ever Women’s World Cup final berth. Captain Olga Carmona etched her name into history with an 89th-minute winner, sending supporters into wild celebrations at Eden Park in Auckland.

The showdown had all the elements of a classic clash – back-and-forth action, late-game drama, and goals that left spectators in awe. Sweden, who had experienced consecutive World Cup semi-final losses, showed their resilience by equalising through Rebecka Blomqvist just 93 seconds before the end of regular time, forcing the match tantalisingly close to extra time.

Amidst a game characterised by scarce goal-scoring opportunities, 19-year-old substitute Salma Paralluelo provided the breakthrough for Spain with only 10 minutes left on the clock. The ecstatic eruption from Spain’s players mirrored the anguish of Sweden’s team, as their World Cup dreams were extinguished in the dying moments of the game.

Tightly contested semi-final

The match’s trajectory bore little resemblance to its cautious and tightly contested opening 80 minutes. Jorge Vilda, Spain’s head coach, took a bold step by reintroducing Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who had been working her way back from a significant knee injury. Putellas‘ on-field magic was on full display when she effortlessly nutmegged Manchester City‘s Filippa Angeldahl, earning roars from the capacity crowd of 43,217.

The match’s first shot on target materialized in the 42nd minute, with Sweden’s Fridolina Rolfo‘s attempt thwarted by her Barcelona teammate, Cata Coll. While Spain dominated possession, Sweden’s resolute defense proved steadfast, having remained unbroken for the majority of the past month. Set-pieces had been Sweden’s go-to strategy for scoring throughout the tournament, yet Coll stood strong against their inswinging corners that had caused havoc in previous matches. But then, the narrative took an explosive turn.

Paralluelo, the same player who had secured Spain’s quarter-final victory over the Netherlands, kept her composure to put Spain ahead. Yet, just as fans were preparing for extra time, substitute Blomqvist netted an equalizer, reviving Sweden’s hopes and setting the stage for an electrifying finish.

In the end, it was Captain Olga Carmona who seized the moment, delivering a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar and into the net following a corner. Spain’s historic victory was solidified, propelling them into the Women’s World Cup final in a manner that will undoubtedly be remembered for years to come.

It’s been a rocky road for Spain, but players overcome it to reach historic World Cup final

The road to this remarkable accomplishment was far from smooth. Spain’s journey was marked by challenges, both on and off the field. Just 15 days prior, the team suffered a resounding 4-0 defeat to Japan during group play. Despite the setback, Coach Vilda‘s unwavering optimism rallied his players, as they went on to eliminate Switzerland, the Netherlands, and finally Sweden to reach the pinnacle of the tournament.

The victory was a testament to Spain’s resilience, especially considering the turmoil that preceded the tournament. The squad weathered internal disagreements as 15 players voiced concerns over coaching methods. Coach Vilda initially excluded them from the team, but eventually, three of these players – Mariona Caldentey, Aitana Bonmati, and former Manchester United defender Ona Batlle – rejoined the squad. Their united efforts underscored Spain’s determination and spirit, culminating in a historic night for La Roja.

Spain will face England in the Women’s World Cup final, which is set to take place on Sunday at 10pm (NZ time).

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