Slick Spain beat England to win women’s world cup

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Spain are the FIFA Women’s World Cup champions after a dominant and deserved 1-0 win over England at Stadium Australia in Sydney.

Captain Olga Carmona emerged as La Roja’s history-making heroine with a superb strike that secured the team’s first major title and completed a unique clean sweep of FIFA crowns at U-17, U-20 and senior level.

Finals are notorious for being tense and cagey affair but this was high-energy, high-quality and end-to-end from the very first whistle.

And while the Spanish created the better chances – and more of them – it was England who registered the first effort of note.

This was when Lauren Hemp crashed a left-foot shot against the bar with a quarter-of-an-hour played.

La Roja always looked dangerous though, particularly in wide areas, and they should have moved in front two minutes later.

This was when Salma Paralluelo raced down the left and curled in the most tantalizing of crosses.

Teresa Abelleira seemed certain to convert at the back post but her first-time effort lacked direction and allowed Mary Earps to stick out a hand and divert the ball to safety.

Spain continued to grow in confidence, though, and on 29 minutes they broke the deadlock with a beautifully constructed goal.

Having dispossessed Lucy Bronze as the wing-back charged forward and infield, the Spanish midfield combined intelligently and speedily to work the ball into the space Bronze had vacated.

Mariona Caldentey then maximized the opportunity with a perfectly weighted pass into the feet of Carmona, who obliged with an equally flawless first-time finish, drilled low, hard and just inside Earps’ left-hand post.

The goal was no more than Jorge Vilda’s side deserved, and Paralluelo came within a whisker of doubling their lead.

With the last kick of the half – she clipped the outside of the post with a smart first-time effort.

Sarina Wiegman clearly wasn’t happy with what she was seeing and reacted decisively with a double substitution at the interval, bringing on Lauren James and Chloe Kelly.

The pattern of Spanish dominance was maintained, however, and only a brilliant one-handed save from Earps prevented Caldentey from curling in a second within four minutes of the restart.

The England goalkeeper has been outstanding at the World Cup and again came to the Lionesses’ rescue.

This was after a Keira Walsh handball was penalized with the awarding of a penalty following a VAR review.

Jenni Hermoso struck her left-foot kick firmly enough but Earps was already on the move and, having guessed right, was able to hold the shot and offer Wiegman’s side renewed hope.

In truth, though, the European champions rarely looked like forcing their way back into this final.

Spain remained comfortable and composed throughout the remainder of the match and celebrated wildly at full-time, having emerged as impressive and worthy champions.

The result meant Spain ended their World Cup campaign in Australia and New Zealand, not just as champions but as leading goal scorers, having found the net 18 times.

La Roja also became just the second team to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

This was after suffering a defeat on their way to winning the competition. Japan previously achieved this by triumphing in 2011, having lost 2-0 to England in the group stage.

Having won the FIFA U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cup last year, Spain have become the first nation to hold all three global titles simultaneously.

Paralluelo who won the youngest player of the tournament award is the first player to win all three of these FIFA competitions.

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