Spain records historical win over Sarina Wiegman’s England in thrilling Women’s World Cup final
Despite being the favorites to lift the prestigious 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup title, Sarina Wiegman’s England Lionesses failed to get past Spain in the competition final. Olga Carmona’s first-half strike emerged as the ultimate difference between the two nations at the final as Jorge Vilda’s side was celebrating their time with the trophy after the final whistle.
Former Netherlands boss, Sarina Wiegman decided to use the same formation against Spain as she did against the Matildas in the semi-final. With Lauren Hemp, Ella Toone, and Alessia Russo upfront, Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway, and Rachel Daly were given the responsibilities in the midfield. Moreover, Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze, Jess Carter, and Alex Greenwood were the chosen defenders for England with Manchester United’s Mary Earps in the net.
On the other side, Jorge Vilda decided to play safe with a balanced formation in the last match for the tournament. Salma Paralluelo, Alba Redondo, and Mariona Caldentey were leading the pack for the Spanish side, while Teresa Abelleira, Aitana Bonmati, and Jennifer Hermoso were filling the midfield. While Ona Batlle, Olga Carmona, Laia Codina, and Irene Paredes were given the defensive duties as Cata Coll was the chosen goalkeeper.
The match got underway with England Lionesses in possession. Keeping the ball, they quickly invaded the Spanish defense in just the second minute. In the 4th minute, Bronze crafted a dangerous attack into the Spanish box but it was eventually cleared by Paredes without much trouble.
Spain was trying to get momentum in the fixture, however, the English women were recovering the ball on quick successions. Failing to get the ball, the England Lionesses were testing the Spanish defense eminently. Hence, in the 14th minute, they finally managed to develop their first attack with a counterattack powered by their goalkeeper, Cata Coll.
Recovering from the counter, in the 17th minute, Hemp capitalized on the opportunity by attacking and getting close to the goal but her shot hit the woodwork. Without any stoppage, all the players were giving their best from one side of the Stadium Australia to another. In the 23rd minute, Paralluelo gave a beautiful cross which failed to find Redondo as Earps was quick to intercept.
However, Spain managed to draw the first blood in the 29th minute when Olga Carmona smashed the ball into the net after getting a cross-flank pass. The Spanish team started celebrating because despite getting less possession, they managed to score the first goal of the final.
Consequently, the goal left the English Lionesses desperate for an equalizer. Sarina Wiegman’s side started committing more women forward as they were trying their best to end the goal drought in the first half. Moreover, just after the goal, the English side started making errors. After Bronze missed a crucial header in the 36th minute, Toone also mistimed her run and ended up failing to capitalize on a vital opportunity in the 43rd minute.
England Lionesses started the first half with energy and a grappling vision, however, after getting into the deficit, their graph in the game declined drastically. The last chance in the first half was taken by Paralluelo, who missed the goal due to a poor touch. During half-time, Sarina Wiegman would have changed her tactics as James and Kelly were brought into the game in place of Russo and Daly.
The second half got underway with Spain in possession. Moreover, the combination of Bonmati and Paralluelo on the right flank also started becoming a major threat to the England Lionesses. In the 50th minute, Bonmati slid the ball into the left flank which found Caldentey. After a brilliant display of her dribbling skills, Caldentey took a worthy attempt to make the scoreline 2-0 but it was saved by Earps as she dived and blocked it off for a corner.
In the 55th minute, England had their best chance to score, which was poorly played out wide by experienced Hemp. Spain also made their first change of the match as Hernandez was subbed in the fixture at the place of Redondo. As the English Lionesses were trying to settle their feet into the match again, Bonmati was creating spectacular balls one after one.
In the 64th minute, while the Spanish team was hunting for their second goal, the ball deflected on Walsh’s hand. Spain instantly started protesting for a penalty, however, the referee looked unbothered as only a corner was given. Coincidentally, a penalty was awarded to the leading side in the 69th minute. Hermoso stepped up to take the crucial set piece but she eventually came up short against the heroics of Earps, who saved the direct attempt as well as the rebound taken by the same footballer.
Jorge Vilda’s side shifted into a much more compact formation as they were trying to hold possession and defend their narrow lead. However, following a brilliant interception by Kelly, followed by a much-improved cross-flank pass, James tried to make the match equal, but Carmona came to her side’s rescue by clearing the danger. Hence, as the clock crossed the 85-minute mark, Sarina Wiegman made another attacking substitution.
A total of 13 minutes were added in the match as injury time and they were massively dominated by Spain as Earps was on a full stretch for the whole duration. Hence, as the final whistle was blown, Jorge Vilda’s Spain was the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions.