AUCKLAND - Olga Carmona’s stunning 89th-minute strike gave Spain a 2-1 win over Sweden on Tuesday to propel them into the Women’s World Cup final for the first time in their history.
Spain’s thrilling victory at Eden Park sets up a showdown in Sydney on Sunday with either Australia or England, who meet in the other Women’s semi-final on Wednesday. The last-four clash in Auckland seemed to be drifting towards extra time before suddenly bursting to life when substitute Salma Paralluelo put Spain ahead with nine minutes left.
Rebecka Blomqvist equalised for Sweden in the 88th minute only for full-back Carmona, Spain’s captain, to score with a superb shot in off the underside of the crossbar from the edge of the box 60 seconds later. “We are so proud of everything we have done and for getting to the final because now we are one small step away from glory,” said Paralluelo.
It has been a remarkable run for a nation who had never previously gone beyond the last 16 at a Women’s World Cup, and for a team who had been in disarray in the months leading up to the tournament. Fifteen Spanish players told their federation last September that they no longer wished to be considered for selection, mainly out of unhappiness with coach Jorge Vilda, and only three of them returned for this Women’s World Cup run.
While their dream of World Cup glory remains alive, Sweden are left with a familiar feeling after going so far at another major tournament before falling short. This is the third time in four Women’s World Cups that they have reached the semi-finals, only to lose on each occasion.
Peter Gerhardsson’s side also lost in the last four at the European Championship last year, having been beaten in the final of the Tokyo Olympics on penalties against Canada in 2021. “Everyone just feels sadness and huge disappointment,” said Gerhardsson, whose team had been so impressive in beating Japan 2-1 in the last eight.
“We were up against an excellent Spanish side and they were able to disrupt us a lot more than Japan did.” Host nation New Zealand bid a fond farewell to the tournament, having generated a total attendance of more than 700,000 people in 29 matches across four cities.