Carmona's Goal Sends Spain to World Cup Final with 2-1 Victory Against Sweden
Olga Carmona's late goal propelled Spain to a thrilling 2-1 victory over Sweden in the semi-finals on Tuesday, earning the Iberian nation their first-ever Women's World Cup final appearance. The tournament concluded in New Zealand with an outburst of goals and dramatic moments.
Wearing the captain's armband, Carmona's decisive strike came in the 90th minute from the edge of the area, rebounding off the crossbar and into the net just moments after Sweden's Rebecka Blomqvist had equalized. The electrifying atmosphere at Eden Park, filled with 43,217 passionate fans, intensified the match's intensity.
Teenager Salma Paralluelo, who had previously served as Spain's quarter-final hero against the Netherlands, once again displayed her magic coming off the bench. Her 81st-minute goal gave Spain the lead and revitalized what had been a cautiously paced and tightly contested affair.
Less than a year after a player rebellion led by some members of the team against coach Jorge Vilda threatened to disrupt their unity, 'La Roja' now finds themselves with an opportunity to claim the championship trophy. The decisive final will take place in Sydney on Sunday, where Spain will face either co-hosts Australia or England.
"We're overjoyed. If you could see the dressing room now, the celebrations are truly incredible," shared Vilda with reporters. "We are looking ahead to the final, departing for Sydney tomorrow, and we're determined to emerge victorious."
For Sweden's Peter Gerhardsson, their journey ended with another semi-final defeat, following their similar fate in the previous World Cup and European Championship.
The intense encounter between Spain's attacking prowess and Sweden's solid defense saw Spain initially dominating the game. Carmona's close-range shot missed just wide, and Aitana Bonmati's powerful effort from the edge of the box veered past the post.
As the first half concluded, Sweden showcased their set-piece prowess, applying pressure in a typical fashion. In a tense moment before halftime, Spain faced a scare as Nathalie Bjorn's cross found an unmarked Fridolina Rolfo in the area, but her volley was well-handled by goalkeeper Cata Coll.
The second half began with Sweden continuing their pressure, but Paralluelo, named the match's standout player, shifted the momentum back in favor of Spain. She came close to breaking the deadlock in the 70th minute, orchestrating a crucial cut-back pass to Alba Redondo, who narrowly missed the target.
Paralluelo's persistence paid off 11 minutes later, as she capitalized on a poor clearance, emphatically slotting the ball into the right corner and igniting Spanish celebrations.
Sweden's elation turned to heartbreak when Carmona's fierce strike, launched from a corner, hit the underside of the bar before crossing the line, securing Spain's historic World Cup final berth.
As the Swedes faced the cruel turn of events, their manager Gerhardsson lamented the late shift in fortunes. "I think everyone just feels sadness and huge disappointment," he expressed. "We experienced this tremendous joy and hope of potentially extending the match into extra time. Then, the situation changed once again."
The host nation, New Zealand, bid a fond farewell to the tournament, having witnessed more than 700,000 attendees across 29 matches held in four different cities.