West News Wire: Salma Paralluelo, a substitute, scored the game-winning goal in extra time that pushed Spain to a tense 2-1 victory over the Netherlands and, for the first time, into the Women’s World Cup semifinals.
On Friday, the 19-year-old Barcelona winger broke the 1-1 tie by latching onto a through ball, cutting a Dutch defender inside and out, and unleashing a shot that clanged off the post and into the goal.
After the game, Paralluelo stated, “It’s crucial for everyone. “We were successful. We fought all the way to the end. We have confidence.
La Roja, ranked sixth, will play either Japan or Sweden for a spot in the final on Tuesday in Auckland. La Roja had failed to go past the round of 16 in its previous two World Cup visits.
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.
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 at Wellington Regional Stadium.
The US, Germany, Canada, and Brazil had already been eliminated when the ninth-ranked Dutch, who finished second to the US in France four years prior, were the latest tournament favourites to be ousted.
After the game, Van der Gragt said, “It’s hard now.
“They had one chance in overtime, and they scored, whereas we had the opportunity. It’s football, there.
In the 17th minute, goalie Daphne Van Domselaar made a spectacular diving stop to deflect Alba Redondo’s close-range header into the post, saving the Netherlands from going behind.
Redondo received the ball back after it had bounced off of the same woodwork and made another effort.
Spain continued to dominate possession and appeared to have been rewarded with a goal in the 37th minute when Redondo had trouble controlling a cross in front of the net, but Esther Gonzalez poked it in from an offside position.
The Dutch were poised to celebrate a penalty in the 64th minute after forward Lineth Beerensteyn collided with defender Irene Paredes in the area but again VAR intervened.
Beerensteyn had several excellent scoring chances, but the Juventus striker fired one shot wide of the net and another just over the crossbar.
Spain’s historic progress comes despite an ugly player revolt in the build-up to the tournament.
Fifteen players declared themselves unavailable for selection in September, saying events with the national team had impacted their emotional and physical health. They directed the bulk of complaints at coach Jorge Vilda.