Spain Advances To Women’s World Cup Semi-Finals

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Spain advanced to the semi-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Friday after a late extra-time winner by Substitute Salma Paralluelo earned a 2-1 victory against the Netherlands, at the Wellington Regional Stadium in New Zealand.

The ninth-ranked Dutch, who were runners-up to the United States four years ago in France, became the latest tournament favourites eliminated in a Women’s World Cup full of upsets, with the USA, Germany, Canada and Brazil already gone.

All the goals came late in a tight game with Mariona Caldentey scoring Spain’s first from a penalty kick in the 81st minute after Dutch defender Stefanie Van der Gragt had handled the ball inside the box.

Spain’s Mariona Caldentey scores penalty agains the Netherlands.

Spain continued to dominate possession and appeared to be heading to a famous victory against the Netherlands.

However, Van der Gragt, in her final match before retirement earned some redemption when she equalised in the 91st minute to send the contest to extra time in front of 32,021 fans.

Dutch defender Stefanie Van der Gragt celebrates goal against Spain.

Deep into extra time, a brilliant piece of play by Substitute Salma Paralluelo sent the fans at the Wellington Regional Stadium into a frenzy.

The 19-year-old Barcelona winger latched onto a through ball, turned a Dutch defender inside and out and unleashed a shot that struck the post and crept into the net to send Spain into the semi-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time.

“It means everything for me, it was a unique moment, great euphoria. I’m extremely happy,” Paralluelo said after the thrilling match.

The sixth-ranked Spain, who had not advanced past the round of 16 in two previous two World Cup appearances, will now face Sweden for a place in the final in Auckland on Tuesday.

“We went to extra time, but the team kept on believing,” said Spain coach Jorge Vilda. “They played on an extraordinary level, all players.”

“And it was a match with a lot of emotional decisions and the goal from Salma, it was sheer joy.”

Friday’s FIFA Women’s World Cup results

Spain 2-1 Netherlands

Japan 1-2 Sweden.

Source Reuters FIFA Women's World Cup

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