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Women’s World Cup: Spain are first finalists

Spain pulled off a breathtaking 2-1 victory over Sweden today to book their first-ever foray into the Women’s World Cup title decider.

Auckland’s Eden Park witnessed a late drama as the two European heavyweights collided on the world’s biggest stage for the first time with everything at stake.

Since the 2023 Women’s World Cup is Spain’s only third appearance at the tournament, it’s hardly a surprise they came out seeking their maiden final qualification.

Unlike La Roja, Sweden have never missed out on the event, with this marking their fourth attempt to navigate a semi-final tie and the second in a row following exit against the Netherlands in 2019.

As in their last two bids to overcome this hurdle, Peter Gerhardsson’s side could cope not with the pressure despite going from strength to strength in the build-up.

Alongside England, Blagult reached the semi-finals as one of only two nations to have gone unbeaten in all five previous matches, including a 2-1 win over Japan in the quarter-finals.

Defensive resilience that has been Sweden’s trademark in Australia and New Zealand served them well for most of the game, but they collapsed down the final stretch.

Eden Park had to wait for the 81st minute for the opening goal as one of the tournament’s best players, Salma Paralluelo, drew first blood with a beautiful half-volley from inside the box.

Wolfsburg forward Rebecka Blomqvist put things back to square one only seven minutes later, latching onto Lina Hurtig’s lay-off on the edge of the six-yard box.

However, Sweden’s celebrations were short-lived, with Spain reclaiming the lead almost immediately through Olga Carmona Garcia.

The Real Madrid star’s mid-range effort took a slight deflection and caught Chelsea goalkeeper Zecira Musovic off guard as La Roja squeezed into the grand final.

Vilda’s side will face the winner of Wednesday’s semi-final tie between co-hosts Australia and defending European champions England in Sunday’s showpiece in Sydney.

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