Soccer

How Spain reached their first World Cup final

Spain’s Eva Navarro celebrates the semi-final win over Sweden (Andrew Cornaga/AP).
Spain’s Eva Navarro celebrates the semi-final win over Sweden (Andrew Cornaga/AP). Spain’s Eva Navarro celebrates the semi-final win over Sweden (Andrew Cornaga/AP).

Spain reached the final of a Women’s World Cup for the first time with a 2-1 victory over Sweden.

Jorge Vilda’s side will face England in the showpiece on Sunday.

Here the PA news agency looks at Spain’s route to the final.

Solid start ended emphatically by Japan

WWCup Japan Spain Soccer
WWCup Japan Spain Soccer Two group wins were followed by a 4-0 defeat to Japan to end the group stages (John Cowpland/AP)

Spain cruised through their opening two group games, with a 3-0 win over Costa Rica followed by a 5-0 drubbing of Zambia which safely secured a passage through to the knockout stages. But their final group game resulted in a surprise 4-0 loss to Japan, with three first-half goals preceding Mina Tanaka’s 82nd-minute effort. After eight goals in two games, conceding none, few would have predicted such a comprehensive defeat. It prompted changes, the most notable of which was goalkeeper Cata Coll replacing Misa Rodriguez.

Switzerland brushed aside

Soccer WWCup Match Moments Photo Gallery
Soccer WWCup Match Moments Photo Gallery Spain swept aside Switzerland 5-1 (Andrew Cornaga/AP)

Switzerland next up looked a tougher challenge, but they were no match for the Spaniards, who scored five on their way to victory. Aitana Bonmati’s opener five minutes into the contest was cancelled out in unbelievable fashion when Laia Codina’s backpass flew past Coll to make it 1-1. But Spain’s procession resumed with three more first-half goals, with Alba Redondo and Bonmati breaking through, before Codina put one into the right net. Jennifer Hermoso added a fifth to secure victory in style.

Extra-time for Netherlands

WWCup Spain Netherlands Soccer
WWCup Spain Netherlands Soccer Paralluelo’s strike sealed Spain’s win over the Netherlands (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

The quarter-finals threw up a tricky tie against the Netherlands, who had scored 11 goals prior to this game, and Spain had to work to ensure their place in the semi-finals for the first time in their history. Dominating possession and attempts, Spain battered down the Dutch door and looked like they had their all-important winner in the 81st minute when Mariona Caldente scored from the penalty spot after a handball VAR review. However, Stefanie van der Gragt’s equaliser in stoppage time sent the game to extra-time, during which Salma Paralluelo secured their place in the last four in stunning fashion.

Late heartbreak for Sweden

WWCup Sweden Spain Soccer
WWCup Sweden Spain Soccer Spain snatched victory over Sweden to reach the final (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

Sweden came into the semi-final with plenty of believe having knocked out defending champions United States, but that did not deter Spain as a game of few big chances came to life in the final 10 minutes. Vilda’s team found the opener in the 81st minute through Paralluelo’s drilled effort from close range, but Sweden thought they had sent the game to extra-time when Rebecka Blomqvist expertly finished past Coll to make it 1-1 in the 88th minute. However, just one minute later, Spain regained their advantage as Olga Carmona rifled Spain into the final.