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Women's World Cup: Spain make it to the final

Women's World Cup: Spain make it to the final
Spain's Salma Paralluelo celebrates scoring the first goal during the Women's World...   -  
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Andrew Cornaga/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

New Zealand

Spain qualified for the first World Cup final in its history, beating Sweden (2-1) on Tuesday in Auckland, in a semi-final with twists and turns that tipped on a goal in the 90th minute. by Olga Carmona.

With an overpowered strike, the Spanish defender knocked out the Swedes who had equalized a few seconds earlier, by Rebecka Blomqvist (88th).

Padlocked for a long time, the match was unlocked in a last quarter of an hour of madness, following the goal of Salma Paralluelo (81st), the Spanish "supersub" of Equatoguinean origin already decisive in the previous round.

The offensive force of La Roja got the better of the co-best defense of the tournament, surprised by the turn of events, in the New Zealand rain which showered their hopes.

Spain, who were playing in their first World Cup semi-final , remain in contention for a title that would crown their change in status from emerging nation to established power.

Aitana Bonmati 's teammates thwarted the odds, despite behind-the-scenes tensions linked to the methods deemed divisive by coach Jorge Vilda , who suffered the revolt of 15 internationals last year who no longer wanted to play under his orders.

One of the youngest selections of the tournament will face, on Sunday in Sydney, Australia or England, two other countries in search of a first star.

The cruel outcome is repeated for Sweden, which loses a third consecutive World Cup semi-final, after 2011 and 2019 – not to mention the semi-final lost last year at the Euro.

The Parallelo joker

The Scandinavians, who had eliminated the United States double defending champions in the eighth round (0-0 aet, 5-4 pens) then Japan in the quarterfinals (2-1), left the competition against a supposedly less experienced opponent.

Their strategy with a strong defensive content, however, kept the Spaniards away from the goal of Zecira Musovic for a long time, who did not have to deploy as she did brilliantly against the Americans.

Spain remained faithful to their possession game, embellished with high-class technical gestures, but without being dangerous, during a balanced first hour, without brilliance on either side.

The entry into play (57th) of winger Salma Paralluelo, in place of the double Golden Ball Alexia Putellas, relaunched the match in favor of La Roja who, finally, got out of the false rhythm imposed by their opponents.

The 19-year-old Barcelona nugget opened the scoring with a fine low shot from the right. It was she who had already scored to qualify Spain for the semi-finals, during extra time against the Netherlands (2-1 ap), a match which she had started as a substitute.

The goal woke up Sweden, who equalized through Blomqvist, whose volley, off a header from Lina Hurtig, seemed to redirect the game into extra time.

It was without counting on Carmona. Following a corner, the Spanish captain sent a powerful shot that Musovic deflected in vain on his bar, then in his goal.

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