Spain outlasts England 1-0 to win its first Women’s World Cup title

In a triumphant turn of events, Spain secured their inaugural Women’s World Cup championship, emerging victorious just under a year after a player revolt. Their resolute performance held off England with a 1-0 scoreline on Sunday, propelled by Olga Carmona’s decisive first-half goal.

This historic triumph not only marked Spain’s maiden major international title but also established them as the first European squad to clinch the Women’s World Cup since Germany’s victory in 2007.

As the final whistle blew, the Spanish team jubilantly converged in front of their goal, celebrating their well-earned achievement.

Carmona’s skillful left-foot strike in the 29th minute found its mark in the far corner of the net, narrowly escaping the grasp of England’s diving goalkeeper, Mary Earps.

Displaying her elation, Carmona lifted her jersey to reveal the word “Merchi” inked on her undershirt, a likely tribute to her former school.

Adding to her already impressive achievements, Carmona showcased her game-winning prowess by securing the victory with another crucial goal in the 89th minute, echoing Carli Lloyd’s feat in 2015 as the first player to score in both a World Cup semifinal and final. Her contribution was pivotal in Spain’s 2-1 triumph over Sweden in the semifinals.

Despite having an opportunity to extend their lead in the 68th minute, Spain was thwarted when Jenni Hermoso’s penalty attempt was skillfully saved by England’s Earps, who anticipated the shot and dove to her left.

Spain’s victory was a remarkable turnaround, considering the upheaval witnessed last year when players, grappling with mental health concerns, staged a near-mutiny, calling for a more professional environment. Fifteen players initially stepped away from the national team, but the reconciliation of Ona Batlle, Aitana Bonmatí, and Mariona Caldentey with the federation saw them participate in the World Cup.

England entered the tournament with strong momentum after clinching the European Championship on home soil the previous summer. However, their prospects were dampened by knee injuries that sidelined key players like captain Leah Williamson, Fran Kirby, and Beth Mead from the World Cup squad.

Sarina Wiegman, England’s coach, marked a historic achievement by becoming the first coach to lead teams to consecutive World Cup final matches. After guiding the Netherlands to the final in 2019, she faced a 2-0 defeat against the United States. Her record now stands at 0-2 in World Cup title matches.

England’s journey to the final included a convincing 3-1 victory over host Australia in the semifinals. However, Lauren James, the team’s top scorer with three goals and three assists, was sidelined for two matches due to a suspension resulting from stomping on Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie in the knockout stage opener.

England’s coach Sarina Wiegman opted to start Ella Toone over Lauren James for the final, with James joining the game in the second half.

The match encountered a brief disruption in the 25th minute when a person rushed onto the field but was swiftly apprehended by security personnel.

England’s prime opportunity arose in the 16th minute when Lauren Hemp’s powerful shot struck the crossbar. Shortly after, Salma Paralluelo made a dash for the goal, but her shot was off-target, and England goalkeeper Mary Earps thwarted Alba Redondo’s attempt in a chaotic goalmouth scramble.

Spain’s 19-year-old talent Paralluelo, who had previously scored vital goals for Spain, was given a start by coach Jorge Vilda. She nearly found the net seconds before halftime, but her shot hit the post. Paralluelo received a yellow card in the 78th minute for a foul on Alex Greenwood, who had a cut above her eye.

Hemp had another chance in the 54th minute but missed the target. A minute later, she received a yellow card for a foul on Laia Codina.

Spain had a promising chance to extend their lead in the 68th minute after a video review awarded them a penalty due to Keira Walsh’s handball. However, Earps’ stellar performance kept England’s hopes alive, backed by a series of late saves.

Coach Jorge Vilda faced the challenge of integrating two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas into the lineup, considering her recovery from a torn ACL the previous year. Putellas started on the bench for the final.

Putellas entered the game with just 15 seconds left in regulation, and the match extended into a remarkable 13 minutes of stoppage time.

A crowd of 75,784 spectators filled Stadium Australia for the final, including tennis legend Billie Jean King.

The teams had previously crossed paths in the quarterfinals of the Euros last year, with England emerging victorious 2-1 in extra time through Georgia Stanway’s decisive goal.

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