Spain beats Sweden 2-1 to claim Women’s World Cup final spot

Spain is through to the World Cup final, where it will play either Australia or England.

Spain is through to the World Cup final, where it will play either Australia or England. Photo: AAP

Spain awaits either the Matildas or England in the Women’s World Cup final after defeating Sweden 2-1 in their semi-final in Auckland on Tuesday night.

With precious few chances created over 80 minutes, Spain’s teenage sensation Salma Paralluelo came off the bench to open the scoring in the 81st minute.

But Sweden found a super-sub of their own with Rebecka Blomqvist equalising seven minutes later.

The contest was tied for just 135 seconds before Spainsh captain Olga Carmona struck a long-distance winner to settle the issue and send Jorge Vilda’s side into their first major final.

Spain executed its brand of possession-heavy football for long spells and will take some beating in Sunday’s decider against the winner of Wednesday’s semi-final between Australia and England.

Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson predicted “lovely football” from the high-pressing sides but for the opening half hour the contest fell short of the hype.

Alexia Putellas, in her tournament debut, looked sharp as Spain dominated possession without breaking down the Swedes.

Carmona whistled a long shot just wide off the back post in the 14th minute for Spain’s closest call of the half.

Sweden didn’t produce a shot until the 42nd minute when Nathalie Bjorn looped a ball to the back post which Fridolina Rolfo volleyed, drawing a smart save from rookie goalkeeper Cata Coll.

Coll, just 22 and Barcelona’s reserve goalkeeper, made her debut for Spain in its round-of-16 win over Switzerland but has since kept her place in an extraordinary introduction to international football.

Putellas made way for Paralluelo shortly after the break, which coincided with a momentum swing in favour of the Spanish.

Paralluelo’s tricky feet and speed immediately caused Sweden problems, stretching its defence.

Spain came close in the 69th minute when Alba Redondo fluffed Jenni Hermoso’s cross before Paralluelo gained possession for Redondo, who swept the ball into the side netting while on the ground.

The breakthrough came when Sweden failed to deal with another Hermoso cross, with Paralluelo on the spot to volley home.

But Sweden wasn’t done and equalised when Lina Hurtig knocked down Rolfo’s high ball to the unmarked Blomqvist, who volleyed smartly.

Then, in another twist, Spain’s Carmona received Teresa Abelleira’s corner at the top of the box and struck truly, sending Spain’s fans into delirium.

Until Tuesday night, Spain had never beaten Sweden and until this month it had never won a knockout match at the World Cup.

Spain had also encountered player mutiny and disharmony under Vilda’s leadership in the buildup to the tournament.

On Sunday, Spain has the chance to be crowned world champions.


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