Spain and Sweden have both booked their places in the semifinals of the 2023 Women’s World Cup. The Spanish side endured a late comeback from the Netherlands to advance through the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals. Sweden, on the other hand, were quite comfortable in their victory over Japan. The wins by the two European teams set up a meeting at the semifinal stage in Auckland.

Spain too focused to notice earthquake

Just prior to Spain’s matchup with the Netherlands in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals, an earthquake was felt at the stadium in Wellington. Despite the setback, the match went on as scheduled. The Spanish players were apparently so concentrated on the fixture that they did not even notice the shakes inside the dressing room.

The two teams eventually went most of the game without a goal. However, Spain finally went ahead in the 81st minute thanks to a handball inside the box by Stefanie van der Gragt. Mariona Caldentey stepped up to take the massive shot and converted it to give Spain the late lead.

Nevertheless, the Netherlands fought back to level the scoreline in added time. Van der Gragt made up for the handball incident to send the game into extra time. Spain would retake the lead, this time for good, after Salma Paralluelo scored in the 111th minute of the match. It was the 19-year-old budding star’s first-ever goal at a Women’s World Cup.

Swedes hold on to win after late Japanese surge

Sweden qualified for the semifinals of the tournament in quite a different fashion. The third-ranked team in the world took the lead in the 32nd minute with a goal from Amanda Ilestedt. Filippa Angeldahl then doubled the Swede lead in the 51st minute after converting a spot kick. Japan did, however, have chances to get back into the match. They were awarded a fairly controversial penalty as well, but Riko Ueki hit the bar with the shot.

Japan once again hit the woodwork late in the match from a shot by Aoba Fujino. Nevertheless, Honoka Hayashi finally put Japan on the board with a goal just before the end of the game. The late strike, however, would prove to be just a consolation goal for the Asian team. Golden Boot leader Hinata Miyazawa did not get on the scoreboard as Japan bowed out of the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals.

Spain and Sweden will now face off for a chance to go to the Women’s World Cup Final. The semifinal is set to take place on Tuesday, August 15th at 4 AM (ET).

PHOTO: IMAGO / Action Plus