World Cup 2023 - Spain defeats Sweden as Australia prepares for England
It was the late show as Spain defeated Sweden to qualify for the final of the FIFA Women's World Cup.
Two goals in ten minutes including an 89th minute winner by Spanish defender Olga Carmona helped Spain to the dramatic 2-1 win. Following disrupted preparations for the tournament and a 4-nil loss to Japan in the group stage, Spain stormed into the final for the very first time and will await the winner of Australia and England. In what could be seen as a masterstroke by Spanish coach Jorge Vilda, Carmona was one of two changes to the side that defeated the Netherlands on Friday. For Sweden they were hoping break their previous hoodoo of three third-place finishes. In a cagey first half, it was Carmona who went close on 13 minutes as she whisked a shot from distance just wide of the target following a neat build up from Spain. Sweden's Fridolina Rolfö went close just before half-time as Spain failed to clear their lines, the ball falling to Nathalie Bjorn who's snap-cross found Rolfö who forced a good save from the Spanish keeper.
Spanish substitute Salma Paralluelo eventually broke the deadlock in the 81st minute as she pounced on the loose-ball to find the bottom corner, scoring her second goal in as many matches.
Forced to chase the game, Sweden went the direct route with bombs into the box. The tactic eventually paid off just minutes later as Rolfö found the head of Lina Hurtig who nodded the ball down to an unmarked Rebecka Blomqvist who finished emphatically into the net. Seemingly headed for extra-time, Spain caught the Swedish defence napping as they opted to go short off the corner where Carmona was waiting at the top of the box. Her shot cracking into the underside of the crossbar for the dramatic late winner. Tonight, Australia will meet England in front of a capacity crowd at Stadium Australia for a spot in the final
Speculation remains on whether Australian coach Tony Gustavsson will start captain Sam Kerr in what will arguably be Australia's biggest ever match. While for England, they'll be without star Lauren James who remains suspended.