La Roja are winners of the 2023 Women’s World Cup for the first time ever, with Olga Carmona breaking England hearts with the only goal of the game. Read below the match report and what we learned from the tournament:
Spain 1-0 England: The Match
In a moment of glorious triumph, Spain’s women’s national team clinched their first-ever Women’s World Cup title by defeating England 1-0 in Sydney. Olga Carmona scored the only goal of the game, with a penalty save from Mary Earps keeping the Lionesses within reach until the final whistle.
For the Lionesses, the loss marked a heartbreaking moment as their best chance to win a Women’s World Cup seemed to slip away. England, led by manager Sarina Wiegman – widely regarded as the best female coach in the world – had entered the tournament with optimism, having been European champions and boasting a formidable record of one loss in 38 games. Spain’s triumph, however, underscored their undeniable talent, with seven players from Barcelona‘s Women’s Champions League-winning team in the starting XI.
Spain’s rocky road to victory
Spain’s victory was not only a triumph on the field but also a remarkable story of overcoming turmoil within the team. Prior to the tournament, a dispute involving 15 players and the Spanish football federation had cast a shadow over the team’s preparations. Reports of discontent, concerns over training methods, and inadequate game preparation swirled around manager Jorge Vilda’s leadership. The players, dubbed “Las 15,” submitted identical emails expressing concerns about their emotional state and health.
As the players reveled in their victory on the pitch, boos resonated through the crowd as Vilda, appeared on the big screen being congratulated by Spain’s Queen Letizia at Stadium Australia. He did, however display some bold decision-making throughout the tournament, including handing debuts to goalkeeper Cata Coll and 19-year-old forward Salma Paralluelo. Paralluelo’s impact was particularly notable as she scored crucial goals off the bench in consecutive matches.
Spain’s victory not only secured a Women’s World Cup title but also highlighted the progress of women’s football in the nation. The team’s success marked another chapter in Spain’s growing influence on the global stage, as they now hold world titles at the senior, under-17, and under-20 levels.
Where do England go from here?
Despite England’s loss in the final, manager Sarina Wiegman remains committed to her role. She expressed her intent to fulfil her contract, which extends until 2025. Speculation had arisen about Wiegman‘s potential candidacy for the USA job following Vlatko Andonovski’s departure. However, Wiegman‘s focus remains on leading England and continuing to contribute to the development of women’s football.
The Dutch manager, when asked about the outcome, shared her perspective, “Even in defeat, there are lessons to be learned. We gave it our all, but Spain was the better team today.” Reflecting on the tournament journey, she added, “We came into this competition with high hopes and a strong record. While the result isn’t what we aimed for, I am proud of the progress we’ve made as a team.”
Record-breaking crowds in Australia and New Zealand
The Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand shattered attendance records, attracting over two million fans to the stadiums. The expanded tournament format, featuring 64 games, captured the world’s attention and exceeded initial expectations. With an average attendance of 30,911, up from 21,756 in the previous edition, the tournament showcased the growing popularity of women’s football. FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s ambitious target of 1.5 million ticket sales was also surpassed, in what was generally viewed as a successful tournament which marked the progression of many teams and interest in women’s football.
Some stats from the tournament
Here are four things that we learnt from the final, after Spain secured their first women’s senior title in this competition:
- Spain’s victory in the Women’s World Cup marks them as the fifth team to secure this prestigious title, joining the ranks of USA (4 titles), Germany (2 titles), Norway (1 title), and Japan (1 title).
- Prior to this year’s tournament, Spain had only managed to win a single match in the history of the Women’s World Cup.
- Sarina Wiegman, the coach of England, who finished as the runner-up in this final, previously experienced the same outcome in the 2019 edition while leading the Netherlands. She becomes the first coach to achieve this distinction of finishing as the runner-up in two separate Women’s World Cup tournaments.
- Spain’s Olga Carmona joined an elite group of players by scoring in both the semi-final and final of a single Women’s World Cup. This accomplishment is shared with only six other players, including Carli Lloyd of the USA in 2015. Carmona achieved this feat at the age of 23 years and 69 days, positioning her as the fourth-youngest player to score in a World Cup final.