Spain beat Sweden 2-1 to reach the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Tuesday, in the first semi-final played at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. They will meet either Australia or England in the final to be played on Sunday 20 August.
Olga Carmona’s goal in the 89th minute was enough to clinch victory, capping a flurry of late scoring that saw Sweden tie the game, but then Spain win it just 90 seconds later with their surprise second goal.
Salma Paralluelo, the 19-year-old super-sub who also scored the game-winner in Spain’s 2-1 extra-time quarter final victory over the Netherlands, scored in the 81st minute to break a scoreless game. She gestured for the crowd, which thought it was celebrating Spain’s decider.
But the celebration was brief. Rebecca Blomqvist tied it for Sweden in the 88th. Then just 90 seconds later, Carmona beat Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic with the game-winner.
Playing in only their third World Cup and their first semi-final, the Spaniards had reached a new level facing Sweden.
The Swedes were playing in a fifth World Cup semi-final: they were runners-up in 2003, and have previously finished third three times.
It was Spain’s first semi-final match in a major tournament since the 1997 European Championships, and a match against the second-ranked team in the world that had already eliminated the US and Japan in this tournament.
Spain failed to qualify for the first six editions of the Women’s World Cup, but once ‘La Roja’ made the tournament in 2015 they’ve made a steady climb toward joining the global elite.
Spain scored its first point with a draw in its World Cup debut. Four years later, Spain advanced to the knockout round before it was eliminated by the US team that went on to clinch a second consecutive championship.
In this World Cup, Spain fell to second in its group to Japan before downing Switzerland 5-1 and then the Netherlands to reach the semi-finals.
Spain’s two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas made her third start of the World Cup. Putellas ruptured her ACL last summer and has been working her way back to full fitness. She came off the bench in the team’s last two matches.