On Tuesday, Spain beat Sweden 2-1 thanks to a great goal by Olga Carmona late in the game. Spain has never been to the Women’s World Cup final before.
Spain’s thrilling win at Eden Park means that they will play either England or Australia in the final on Sunday in Sydney. On Wednesday, England and Australia will play in the other semifinal.
It looked like the semi-final in Auckland would go into extra time, but with nine minutes left, a substitute called Salma Paralluelo gave Spain the lead.
In the 88th minute, Sweden’s Rebecka Blomqvist tied the game. However, Spain’s captain, defender Carmona, scored with a great shot from the edge of the box that hit the bottom of the goal.
It’s been an amazing run for a country that had never made it past the last 16 at a Women’s World Cup before, and for a team that was in shambles in the months leading up to the event.
Last September, fifteen Spanish players told their league that they didn’t want to be picked longer, mostly because they didn’t like coach Jorge Vilda. Only three of them came back to play in this World Cup.
Sweden still hopes to win the World Cup, but they feel like they’ve been here before because they got this far at another big event and lost.
This is the third time in the last four World Cups that they lost in the semi-finals.
Last year, Peter Gerhardsson’s team also lost in the European Championship final four. In the final of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Canada beat them on points.
Vilda didn’t give Paralluelo a spot in the starting lineup, even though she came off the bench and scored the game-winning goal in the semifinal against the Netherlands.
Instead, he brought back Alexia Putellas and gave the current Ballon d’Or winner his first start since Spain lost to Japan 4-0 in the group stage.
The plan was clear: to keep control of the ball and make Sweden, which was bigger and stronger, do the running.
Spain had the ball a lot more in the first half, but neither Putellas nor Aitana Bonmati had enough time or space to really change the game.
Jennifer Hermoso gave the ball to Carmona from a long way away, but Carmona’s shot went wide. This was the closest they came to breaking the tie.
In the semifinals, Sweden beat Japan 2-1. It was a good game, but Sweden didn’t do much until three minutes before break, when they almost scored.
Fridolina Rolfo got the ball when Nathalie Bjorn sent a falling cross from the right side to the back post. Seven of Fridolina Rolfo’s Barcelona club teammates also played for Spain, but Cata Coll stopped her side-footed shot.
Vilda’s plan was clear: he was going to save the fast Paralluelo for when the Swedish defense was tired. Just before the hour, he turned to the ex-athlete.
Paralluelo took the place of Putellas. Putellas hasn’t played 90 minutes at this World Cup yet because she is still recovering from a serious knee injury.
With 20 minutes left, Hermoso passed the ball to the substitute, who was eager to keep it in play. She tried to reach it, but Alba Redondo cut off her pass.
Then, Paralluelo scored with nine minutes left in regular time. He had a great feel for the game and hit a shot low into the corner.
Sweden didn’t give up, though. Two subs helped them tie the game in the 88th minute.
Lina Hurtig had just come on when she gave Blomqvist a ball that he scored on. This brought up the idea of extra time again.
But Real Madrid left-back Carmona had other ideas. She made it easy for Spain to win.