WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Salma Paralluelo scored deep in extra time to give Spain a 2-1 win over Netherlands on Friday and a place in the Women’s World Cup semifinals for the first time.
The 19-year-old Paralluelo struck in the 111th minute of a tight knockout match between European soccer heavyweights, creating history for Spain and sending the 2019 World Cup runners-up out of the tournament one round after the defending champions.
“We have succeeded. We have fought until the end. We have believed,” Paralluelo said. “It was a unique moment, great euphoria to have lived through that.”
After starting in all of Spain’s previous matches at the tournament, this was her first entry from the bench.
She went on in the 71st and was heavily involved. After the Dutch missed two chances to take the lead in stoppage time, Paralluelo made her break down the left off a pass from Jenni Hermosa, swiveled to beat Aniek Nouwen, pivoted momentarily and from a difficult angle launched a left-foot shot into the back of the net for the winner.
Head coach Jorge Vilda described the win as “a great day for Spanish women’s football.”
“We’ve reached somewhere we’ve never reached before, and done it playing a good game as well, with a team that is convinced that we can go even further,” he said. “As you can see we are all celebrating. We continue to make history, (but) it was a game more difficult than it could have been.”
Netherlands defender Stefanie van der Gragt had turned from villain to hero in the last 10 minutes of regular time. She conceded a penalty for hand ball in the 81st, which Mariona Caldentey converted to give Spain a 1-0 lead. Then, right at the start of stoppage time, she timed a run brilliantly from Victoria Pelova’s through ball and added a polished finish to level the scores.
It was the 147th goal of the 2023 tournament, a record for the Women’s World Cup, and a dramatic finish for van der Gragt’s last game for the national team.
At first it appeared likely her career would end on a cruel note, when a cross hit her outstretched right arm as she patrolled the edge of the area and Spain was awarded a penalty after a VAR review.
Caldentey placed the ball on the spot, took a few steps back in a hushed stadium, paused, shuffled then sent keeper Daphne Van Domselaar the wrong with her low shot into the left corner.
Then van der Gragt responded by scoring the equalizer to send the match into extra time, where Lineth Beerensteyn went closest to scoring for the Dutch.
Apparently tireless, she broke away but sent her shot across goal and later fired over the bar from close range.
“We did our best. We tried to camouflage our weaknesses and show out strengths, but there’s only one solution: you have to play forward, you have to get the ball, stay on the ball, make the game,” Dutch coach Andries Jonker said. “What we showed during this tournament, sometimes it was fantastic, sometimes it was less than that.”
Spain had much the better of a scoreless first half and appeared to have the best chance of taking a lead in the 37th minute when Esther Gonzalez drove home Alba Redondo’s cross from close range. But a VAR review showed Gonzalez had just crept offside.
Redondo and Gonzalez were constant threats but the finishing touch just eluded Spain. The Spanish also knitted tightly and completed 259 passes to the Netherlands’ 182. Aitana Bonmati always had a creative hand to play for Spain.
Netherlands pressed and sent long balls forward in search of Beerensteyn. They finally connected in the 28th and Beerensteyn dragged the ball back for Esmee Brugts, who crossed and came within a fraction of finding Damaris Egurolla in front of goal.
The Dutch were thwarted by the VAR in the 62nd when Irene Paredes was shown a yellow card after a tussle with Beerensteyn in the area. But after a video review, the penalty and the card were overturned, much to Jonker’s consternation.
“I think the VAR didn’t do their work properly, but (Spain) deserved to win,” Jonker said. “It’s just that this decision was wrong. It was wrong.”
“The main thing is, this is the Netherlands, we can play football, and we can win against Spain.”
Paredes along with Alexia Putellas, who started on the bench and went on late in the first period of extra time, has played in all 12 of Spain’s World Cup matches since 2015.
A crowd of just over 32,000 watched the match, including New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipikins and FIFA president Gianni Infantino on a sunny but cold afternoon. Snow fell overnight on the peaks of the Orongorongo ranges which stood out against the blue sky across the harbor from Sky Stadium. A 5.6 magnitude earthquake rattled Wellington an hour before kickoff.
It didn’t shake the players. The Dutch have been the biggest travelers at this World Cup. Based at Tauranga in New Zealand’s North Island, they played in Wellington, then in Dunedin on the South Island, traveled to Australia for the round of 16 and back to Wellington. Now they have one unwanted trip — home.
AP Women’s World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/fifa-womens-world-cup