Spain have been crowned the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ Champions after defeating England thanks to a first-half goal by Olga Carmona.
The Spanish left-back scored the only goal of the match after a great run down the left flank and an even better finish. It comes just five days after she scored the sealer against Sweden in the semi-final to get her side into Sunday night’s game in Sydney.
The goal started with a great bit of play by La Roja as they quickly capitalised on a Lucy Bronze mistake in the middle of the pitch after the English right-back went on an overly adventurous run in the 29th minute before turning the ball over.
Bronze’s run left a gaping hole in the Lioness’ defence and Spain immediately looked to expose the space left behind switching the ball to Mariona Caldentey who drove at Jess Carter enticing the defender just enough to allow Carmona to receive the ball in behind Carter on her overlapping run with no Bronze there to track her. She powered home a brilliant low shot to the back post, out of reach of a diving Mary Earps to win Spain their first-ever Women’s World Cup title.
Both nations took a bit to find their rhythm in the game and feel each other out, creating a few half-chances as they tested one another’s defence. England almost opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Lauren Hemp rocketed a shot into the cross-bar after some lovely build-up play by the Lionesses, they couldn’t get the rebound either with Spain going right down the other end on a counter-attack of their own.
Just a minute later it was Spain that should’ve had the first goal of the game. It was a great run down the left by Young Player of the Tournament, Salma Paralluelo who put it a terrific cross to find Alba Redondo open at the back-post. She should have put it in the back of the net but can only find Earps who does well to get across to block the shot and keep her side in it.
Paralluelo continued to prove to be a threat for Spain, just like she has been all tournament, providing plenty of spark up front and delivering several dangerous crosses. The teenager almost made it 2-0 in the last minute of the first half after she does well to get her foot on the end of a cross but her shot deflects of the outside of the post and out for a goal kick.
It didn’t take long for Sarian Wiegman to make some changes, injecting both Lauren James and Chloe Kelly into the game at half-time in hopes of finding an equaliser.
It was the latter who almost set up Hemp to get one back for England in the 55th minute. The substitute whipped in a beautiful ball from the right side in behind the Spanish defence to find Hemp at the back-post, but the 23-year-old was unable to direct her shot on goal and it goes around the outside of the post for a goal kick.
Less than 10 minutes later it was Spain back on the attack with Aitana Bonmatí letting fly from outside the box causing Earps to dive at full-stretch, but the powerful strike sails over both Earps at the cross-bar.
La Roja continued to control the momentum and attack England’s goal, this time it’s Caldentey linking up with Paralluelo inside the 18-yard box but neither was able to get a clean shot off. After a few cries of handball by the Spanish players, a VAR check is finally called and referee Tori Penso runs to the screen.
On replay, it was Keria Walsh who looked to have touched the ball with her hand after Caldentey tried to take her bobbling touch past the midfielder. After much deliberation, a penalty is called and after five minutes since the incident occurred, it’s Jennifer Hermoso who steps up to the post to take it for Spain attempting to double their lead with less than 30 minutes of regular time.
Hermoso doesn’t find the corner and Earps guesses correctly, comfortably claiming the spot kit in her lap and once again keeping her side’s World Cup title alive.
The Lionesses’ intensity and belief looked to have lifted off Earps’ effort and continued to press Spain. In the 76th minute, it’s Lauren James who fires a shot off from an acute angle after a clever run in behind the Spanish defence, but Cata Coll is equally up to the task in goals and palms over the bar for a corner.
In the last 10 minutes of regular time, it’s carnage for both teams with players going down all over the pitch and Alex Greenwood on the ground with blood coming from her head after a challenge by Paralluello that ends with her getting a yellow card and 13 minutes of added time.
England keep trying to find a way to stay in it throwing everything they could at Spain, but they weren’t willing to give England even the slightest chance instead staying on the attack themselves forcing several important saves from Earps once again.
Finally, the final blows and Spain run to celebrate with one another, it was an incredible performance by La Roja who were relentless in a tough match and now reap the rewards as World Champions.