The resounding victory was sealed by none other than the team’s captain, Olga Carmona, who delivered the decisive blow in the first half. La Roja’s triumph was all the more remarkable given their recent challenges, including a player rebellion against coach Jorge Vilda and a humbling 4-0 defeat to Japan in the group stage. This victory marked Spain’s first major title, achieved in just their third World Cup appearance.
Midfielders Aitana Bonmati and Teresa Abelleira orchestrated Spain’s performance from the centre of the pitch, underscoring their dominance over England. The margin of victory could have been greater had it not been for England’s goalkeeper Mary Earps, who saved a penalty in the second half.
For England, this defeat marked only their second loss in 39 matches since coach Sarina Wiegman assumed leadership. The defeat dashed their hopes of adding a maiden World Cup title to the European Championship crown they secured last year.
The clash between Spain and England marked the first Women’s World Cup final not to feature either the United States or Germany. The match began at an intense pace, with England initially gaining a slight upper hand in the showdown between two first-time finalists.
Lauren Hemp, England’s forward, demonstrated her prowess by testing Spain’s defence early on, driving the ball towards the goal in the fifth minute before narrowly missing the target with another attempt that clipped the crossbar 12 minutes later.
Spain swiftly responded, with Olga Carmona utilising her overlap on the left flank to send a cross into the box. Teenager Salma Paralluelo’s attempt was thwarted, but Alba Redondo’s ensuing shot was met by a fine save from Earps.
Spain’s moment of glory arrived just before the half-hour mark. A turnover in midfield allowed Teresa Abelleira to send a precise cross-field pass to Mariona Caldentey, who deftly slid the ball forward to Olga Carmona. The left back powered into the box and unleashed an angled shot that evaded Earps’ fingertips, finding the far corner of the net.
The goal sapped England’s momentum, and Spain asserted their dominance in the remainder of the first half. Salma Paralluelo’s shot off the post shortly before halftime underscored Spain’s persistent pressure.
England initiated a tactical shift in the second half, transitioning from three to four defenders at the back and introducing Lauren James for Alessia Russo in the forward position. Spain, however, maintained their unwavering attacking style, with Mariona Caldentey’s powerful shot testing Earps from outside the box in the 50th minute.
Spain’s Aitana Bonmati came close to extending the lead, hitting the crossbar with a long-range effort just after the hour mark. The Spanish team’s fervent appeal for a handball against Keira Walsh during a visit to England’s box eventually led to a penalty decision.
As referee Tori Penso reviewed the VAR footage, the penalty seemed inevitable. However, Mary Earps delivered a stunning save, diving low to her left to thwart Jennifer Hermoso’s spot kick.
Despite England’s valiant efforts, including Lauren James’ attempt tipped over the bar by Spanish goalkeeper Cata Coll in the 75th minute, Spain remained resilient. Even as England pressed all 11 players forward for a corner in stoppage time, Cata Coll confidently gathered the ball, sealing Spain’s historic victory and their place in the annals of women’s football history.
(With inputs from Reuters)