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Eight years after qualifying for its first FIFA Women’s World Cup, Spain is the world champion in women’s soccer.
La Roja beat England 1-0 in the final Sunday in Sydney thanks to a goal from captain Olga Carmona. It’s their first major tournament triumph and the second World Cup title for Spain across the men’s and women’s national teams.
Carmona, who dealt the decisive blow in the semifinal against Sweden, rose to the occasion again Sunday. Her low shot to the far post eluded Mary Earps in the 29th minute.
23 – Aged 23 years and 69 days, Olga Carmona is the second-youngest player to score in both the semi-final and final of a single edition of a FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament, behind only Alex Morgan in 2011 (22y 15d). Example. <a href=”https://t.co/62tVwa4z34″>pic.twitter.com/62tVwa4z34</a>
England were a bit fortunate to only be a goal down at halftime as Spain continued to push for a second goal.
Jenni Hermoso had an opportunity to effectively put the Three Lionesses away for good in the 70th minute after Keira Walsh was whistled for a handball in the 18-yard box. But Earps guessed right and made a save on Hermoso’s penalty attempt.
Alas, the English attack couldn’t capitalize on Earps’ heroics. Lauren James, who came on as a sub to open the second half, forced Cata Coll to make a save at the near post in the 76th minute. That effort aside, the European champions struggled to muster much in the final third.
Spain was simply the better team on the night.
For better or worse, the country is perhaps the best representative for the present moment in women’s soccer.
Spain’s rapid rise as a global power is a testament to what can happen when power brokers make the necessary investments in women’s sports.
Jeff Kassouf @JeffKassouf
SPAIN: 2023 World Cup champions. <br><br>Exceptional players. They’ve come through the youth pipeline (where they win often and play well while doing so) and play a brand of soccer that’s easy to watch. <br><br>2015: First senior World Cup, group stage<br>2019: Round of 16<br>2023: Champions
However, the controversy surrounding coach Jorge Vilda will be part of the story as well. The federation stuck by Vilda despite numerous players voicing their concerns with his approach, and the saga didn’t happen in a vacuum.
Spain’s run through the Women’s World Cup presented quite the dichotomy.
Ultimately the spotlight will shine brightest on the players who were responsible for putting Spain at the top of the mountain.
And the Spanish women might be sitting in the exact same position in four years’ time.