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Spain recover from Putellas shock to start Euro 2022 in style


Milton Keynes (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Spain recovered from the loss of star midfielder Alexia Putellas and conceding after 48 seconds to get their Euro 2022 campaign off to a winning start by beating Finland 4-1.

Linda Sallstrom exposed a huge hole in the Spanish defence to fire the Finns into a shock lead inside the first minute.

Spain had been pre-tournament favourites until the cruciate ligament injury to reigning female Ballon d’Or winner Putellas in training on Tuesday.

La Roja remain unbeaten since March 2020 and bounced back to ensure they got a much-needed three points with tougher tests to come against Germany and Denmark thanks to goals from Irene Paredes, Aitana Bonmati, Lucia Garcia and Mariona Caldentey.

Walking with crutches and decked out in a Spain shirt, Putellas was in attendance to offer encouragement to her teammates.

But the shock of losing their star woman rolled over into the slow start from Jorge Vilda’s side.

Anna Westerlund’s long ball forward played Sallstrom clean through and the Paris FC striker produced a cool finish in off the far post.

Spain settled into their passing rhythm as they enjoyed 70 percent of the possession.

But with all-time top goalscorer Jennifer Hermoso also out of the tournament through injury, they had to rely on the unusual route of crosses into the box to turn the game around.

Captain Paredes started the comeback when she bulleted home a header from Caldentey’s corner.

The diminutive Aitana Bonmati then produced a stunning header into the top corner to settle Spanish nerves before half-time.

Garcia made sure of the points 15 minutes from time when she nodded Maria Leon’s free-kick into the bottom corner before Caldentey slotted home a penalty with the last kick of the game.

Eight-time winners Germany and Euro 2017 finalists Denmark face off later in London in the first blockbuster clash of Group B.

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