Football: Spain books berth in Women’s WC final

The FIFA Women’s World Cup semifinal here on Tuesday witnessed a dramatic last 10 minutes as Olga Carmona scored a late winner to help Spain beat world No. 3 Sweden 2-1. It is the first time for Spain to reach a FIFA Women’s World Cup final. Carmona curled the ball home on the edge of the box in the 89th minute, just one minute after Swedish substitute Rebecka Blomqvist found the equalizer, following Salma Paralluelo’s opener in the 81st minute. World No. 6 Spain, who qualified for its first Women’s World Cup semifinal, controlled most of the first half with 52 percent of ball possession, but failed to create any clear goal-scoring opportunities, a Xinhua report said. The two-time women’s ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, considered to be the best female player in the world, started for Spain for the first time after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury last July. Despite having only 31 percent of possession, Sweden almost took the lead in the 42nd minute, when Fridolina Rolfo’s close range volley was parried by Spanish goalkeeper Cata Coll. In the 57th minute, Spanish head coach Jorge Vilda replaced Putellas with 19-year-old Paralluelo. The explosive teenager, who came off the bench to score the winning goal against the Netherlands in the quarterfinal extra time, became the game-changer again. Paralluelo almost delivered an assist in the 70th minute as she sent the ball into the goal area, but Alba Redondo’s shot couldn’t find the back of the net. Lo Roja finally broke the deadlock with nine minutes into stoppage time when Jenni Hermoso’s cross bounced back off Jonna Andersson and Paralluelo swept the ball into the far corner. Blomqvist levelled for Sweden in the 88th minute thanks to a high cross from fellow substitute Lina Hurtig, but their hope was smashed by Carmona’s decisive goal.