World Cup 2023 - Spain crowned Champions for the very first time as Australia settle for fourth
Spain have become just the 5th nation to win the FIFA Women's World Cup after defeating England in front of 75,000 fans in Sydney.
It would be the first time that the two teams have met in the final of the FIFA Women's World Cup, with England only losing two of their last thirteen encounters with Spain. Both teams showed their intent early, as opportunities flowed at both ends. England managed the first threat on the Spanish goal as Lauren Hemp's effort crashed back off the crossbar following Rachel Daly cut-back. Spain found plenty of possession and space as England's Lucy Bronze coughed up the ball which made it's way to Mariona Caldentey. Caldentey's simple lay off down the left easily finding Spanish captain Olga Carmona who's first time effort whisked past English keeper Mary Earps and into the far corner.
Chasing the game, England Coach Sarina Wiegman made prominent changes at halftime and opted for Rachel Daly and Lauren James off the bench. Spain had a chance to seal the match when a VAR review ruled that Keira Walsh had struck the ball with her hand whilst defending a driving run by Caldentey. Jennifer Hermoso stepped up, only to have Mary Earps save brilliantly down to her left, leaving the door open for England. England pushed though Spain weren't without their chances as they held possession and defended brilliantly until the final whistle.
Meanwhile on Saturday, Australia fell to Sweden 2-0 in the 3rd place play-off. Australia went into the match with a tried and tested line-up minus Alanna Kennedy who was ruled out with concussion. Sweden's Fridolina Rolfö converted a penalty on 30 minutes as Clare Hunt was ruled to have brought down Stina Blackstenius following a VAR review. The tired legs of the Australian's looked evident throughout the match, though it didn't prevent their chances in front of goal. While Australia was chasing the game in the second half and went close on occasions, Sweden had the class to put the game to bed as Kosovare Asliani hit from distance to beat a stretching Mackenzie Arnold. Australia continued to press but ultimately it was for little reward as Sweden wrapped up a 3rd place finish for the fourth time. For Australia it wraps up a magical month, achieving their best ever finish at a FIFA Women's World Cup. They'll now look forward to the Paris 2024 Olympic qualifiers to be played in Perth in October and November