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Spain secures spot in Women’s World Cup final with a last-minute goal by Carmona

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In Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, August 15, 2023, Olga Carmona of Spain is embraced by her teammates in celebration of her match-winning goal during the Women’s World Cup semifinal soccer clash against Sweden at Eden Park. (Photo: Alessandra Tarantino/AP).AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Securing a historic victory, Spain earns a chance at its inaugural Women’s World Cup title as Olga Carmona’s 89th-minute strike propels La Roja to a 2-1 triumph over Sweden in the semifinal clash on Tuesday.

Historic Final Beckons for Spain: Overcoming Past Struggles, La Roja Advances to the Championship Match

SYDNEY — Spain, having triumphed over internal challenges, including a player-led dispute against coach Jorge Vilda last year, will vie for its inaugural Women’s World Cup title. The decisive moment came with Olga Carmona’s late goal propelling them to a 2-1 victory over Sweden in the semifinal on Tuesday.

The controversy that has surrounded Spain traces back to September of the previous year when 15 players penned a letter voicing grievances against Vilda and the team’s conditions. Notably, three of these players are part of the current World Cup squad. In a remarkable turn, Vilda commended the Spanish federation for its steadfast support just a day prior to the Sweden match.

As the tournament co-hosts, Australia and England, battle it out for a spot in the final, Spain awaits the victor. The title showdown is set to take place on Sunday in Sydney.

“This marks a historic day,” exclaimed Vilda. “We’ve secured our place in the final, fulfilling our aspiration.”

Vilda once again expressed gratitude towards the federation and its leadership, underscoring their instrumental role in bringing Spain within grasp of World Cup glory.

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Resilience Shines Through: A Glimpse into Spain’s Strengthened Journey

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Reflecting on the past challenges, Spanish coach Jorge Vilda emphasized the value of the learning process in fostering greater resilience. “The end result is a learning process which has made us all stronger in my opinion, and to leave it archived in the past and think about the future,” Vilda conveyed through a translator. “And to think that we’re here because we deserve it.”

The exhilarating conclusion to the match featured a flurry of late goals, painting a picture of dramatic twists. Sweden managed to level the game, only for Spain to snatch victory just 90 seconds later through an unexpected score.

Salma Paralluelo, the 19-year-old sensation who had previously sealed Spain’s quarterfinals triumph over the Netherlands with a decisive goal in extra time, found the back of the net in the 81st minute to give Spain a 1-0 advantage. Paralluelo’s celebratory gestures prompted the crowd to erupt in cheers, momentarily assuming it was the winning moment.

However, the jubilation was short-lived. Sweden’s Rebecca Blomqvist equalized in the 88th minute, setting the stage for a thrilling finale.

In a stunning turn of events, a mere 90 seconds later, Olga Carmona secured the victory for Spain by beating Sweden’s goalkeeper Zecira Musovic with a match-winning goal. The rapid succession of goals encapsulated the intensity and unpredictability of the contest.

Swedish Drama Unleashes Unpredictable Turn: Spain Triumphs Amidst Chaos

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Spanish defender Irene Paredes described the whirlwind of emotions, stating, “It was really, really, really crazy. After scoring the first one, it was like, ‘OK, this is the end, we have to maintain this lead.’ However, their quick equalizer caught us off guard, and I was left thinking, ‘What just happened?’ Nevertheless, we held onto our belief that we could conjure another opportunity.”

Sweden finds itself on the unfortunate end of the spectrum, having lost in four out of five semifinal appearances. They now strive to secure a fourth-place finish.

In the wake of the match, Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson expressed his need to review the game before forming any comprehensive assessments. He shared, “Right now, I am overwhelmed with emotions. This marks our third semifinal loss. I believe a sense of sadness and immense disappointment permeates throughout.”

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Salma Paralluelo etched her name in history as only the second teenager to score in a Women’s World Cup semifinal, joining Canada’s Kara Lang in 2003, who also found the net against Sweden.

Reflecting on the remarkable achievement, Paralluelo stated, “It was a magical moment. Scoring the initial goal was truly unique. To replicate that feat is absolutely incredible.”

Spain’s journey in the Women’s World Cup is relatively young, as they make their presence felt in only their third appearance. Their advancement to the knockout stage four years ago ended with a loss to eventual champions, the United States.

Paralluelo Sets Sights on the Ultimate Challenge: Spain Prepares for Grand Final

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Paralluelo, with unwavering determination, asserted, “Now it’s the final. I think we have to do what we’ve done in every match. We’ve overcome every challenge, and now we face the ultimate challenge, the big one.”

Despite their illustrious history, the Swedish team has yet to clinch a World Cup title. Their previous accomplishments include being runners-up in 2003 and securing third place on three occasions. Notably, they clinched silver medals at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago and the 2016 Games in Brazil.

Kosovare Asllani expressed the collective sentiment, stating, “I’m tired of shedding tears during major tournaments.” Sweden’s journey also included a heartbreaking loss in the semifinals of the Euros last September.

The Swedes made a resounding statement during the group stage, dominating their opponents before eliminating the two-time reigning champion, the United States, in a penalty shootout following a goalless draw. Progressing further, they overcame the previously unbeaten Japan with a 2-1 victory in the quarterfinals.

Meanwhile, Spain’s path to the semifinals encountered a hiccup with a significant loss to Japan during the group stage. However, they rallied impressively, triumphing over Switzerland 5-1 and the Netherlands 2-1 to secure their place in the semifinals. This marked La Roja’s first appearance in a major semifinal since the 1997 European Championships.

Alexia Putellas Makes Inspiring Return: Spain’s Star Overcomes Injury Struggles

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Spain’s esteemed Ballon d’Or winner, Alexia Putellas, marked her third appearance as a starter in the World Cup, demonstrating remarkable resilience following her ACL rupture last summer. Having made her comeback from the bench in the team’s preceding two matches, Putellas was entrusted with a starting role, replacing Esther Gonzalez in the lineup. In the 57th minute, she made way for the emerging teenage talent, Paralluelo, who extended her goal-scoring streak across two consecutive games.

In the initial half, Spain exhibited dominance over possession and carved out superior opportunities. Carmona’s potent strike from outside the box narrowly missed its mark, leaving the Swedish defense, which had impressively conceded only two goals throughout the tournament, unbreached.

Notably, Putellas displayed her flair by elegantly nutmegging Filippa Angeldal before delivering a well-placed cross in the 35th minute. However, Sweden’s Magdalena Eriksson stood resolute, effectively clearing the threat.

The display of resilience and skill by Putellas in her journey back to full fitness adds a compelling layer to Spain’s World Cup narrative.

Spectacular Goalkeeping and Near-Misses: Drama Unfolds in Spain vs. Sweden Showdown

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Spain’s goalkeeper, Cata Coll, showcased her acrobatics with a crucial dive to deny Fridolina Rolfo’s shot late in the first half. Her prowess continued as she boldly punched away a corner kick, maintaining the game’s deadlock as the first half came to a close.

Emerging from halftime with renewed vigor, Sweden displayed an impressive surge of energy. However, Spain persisted in generating opportunities. In the 63rd minute, Paralleulo’s well-timed header narrowly missed the target, leaving the crowd in suspense.

In the 71st minute, Alba Redondo found herself grounded in front of the goal, managing to make contact with the ball. Despite the momentary excitement, her effort fell short, with the ball becoming ensnared in the side netting.

The tension heightened as video review scrutinized Paralluelo’s goal, ultimately confirming its validity. The ensuing jubilation saw Spain’s players converging around Carmona, celebrating her match-winning feat near the team’s bench.

Amidst the riveting action, a crowd of 43,217 fervent fans bore witness to the enthralling match at Auckland’s iconic Eden Park.

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