Spain claimed its first Women’s World Cup on Sunday with a convincing win against England. In the buildup to the competition, the Spanish women’s national team faced major issues with the Federation and its head coach. However, on the field, no team could match Spain’s patented tiki-taka style and free-flowing movement of the ball.
That much was evident on Sunday in Sydney. Facing an England team that brought Lauren James back into the fold, Spain was a class above the Lionesses. Possession stats and passing followed Spain in their traditional manner. Moreover, La Roja mustered the majority of the clear-cut chances. In addition to saving a penalty, England goalkeeper Mary Earps was one of the best players on the pitch for either side.
Had England secured a lead, her performance would have been heroic. England was inches away from that lead early on in the fixture. Rachel Daly cut the ball back for Lauren Hemp. Hemp pounded the ball against the Spain crossbar, but it redirected away from the play.
Instead, it was Spain to strike first. Olga Carmona, who scored a sensational game-winner against Sweden in the semifinals, scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in this game. After Lucy Bronze lost possession in the middle of the park, Spain targeted the right side of that England defense. Spain left winger Mariona Caldentey played through Carmona on the overlap. The left-back slotted the ball beyond Earps, who had no chance.
That opportunity was Spain’s first great chance. Yet, it was certainly not the side’s last. For instance, in the first half, Salma Paralluelo hit the outside of the post. The tournament’s young player of the tournament was a force with her speed down the wings. This was her best chance of the evening in Sydney.
Spain sees off England to win Women’s World Cup
Perhaps coming so close at the end of the first half spurred on the Spanish. Mary Earps made a splendid save with her fingertips to deny Caldentey Spain’s second. Earps looked likely to concede a second when England gave away a penalty. The outstretched hand of Keira Walsh brushed against the ball in the England box. Although a slight touch, it was enough for American referee Tori Penso to award a spot kick after a VAR review.
Jennie Hermoso, Spain’s all-time leading scorer, stepped up to take the kick. Her effort to Earps’s left-hand side was caught and held. For a time, that save looked to spark England, which now had a lifeline because of Earps’s heroics.
However, England did not have too many chances. Lauren James tested the Spanish net, but that was it. Spain forced a pair of strong saves out of Earps, who was doing everything she could to keep England in the game. For her efforts in this game and throughout the tournament, Earps won the award for the best goalkeeper of the Women’s World Cup.
In the end, though, it was Spain that lifted the Women’s World Cup trophy. Spain is now the second country to win the World Cup in both the men’s and women’s competitions. Germany, which has multiple titles in both, is the other country.
It was a massively successful tournament for Europe as a whole. With Sweden defeating Australia in the consolation game, Europe finished first, second and third at this year’s Women’s World Cup.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Xinhua
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