Spain achieved a remarkable victory in the Women’s World Cup, claiming their first-ever title after a player rebellion that had rocked the team less than a year prior. In a nail-biting final showdown, Spain held off England with a 1-0 victory, secured by Olga Carmona’s first-half goal. This triumph not only marked Spain’s maiden major international trophy but also established them as the first European team to clinch the Women’s World Cup since Germany in 2007.

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Carmona’s Heroics

In the 29th minute of the final, Olga Carmona’s left-footed strike found the far corner of the net, just beyond the reach of England’s diving goalkeeper, Mary Earps. Her goal was a moment of pure brilliance that would go down in history. Carmona, in an emotional celebration, raised her jersey to reveal “Merchi” scrawled in ink on her undershirt, a touching nod to her former school. Notably, Carmona’s heroics were not limited to the final; she also scored the crucial game-winner in Spain’s semifinal victory over Sweden, becoming the first player since Carli Lloyd in 2015 to score in both a World Cup semifinal and final.

Spain’s Missed Opportunity and Redemption

Despite their lead, Spain had an opportunity to double it in the 68th minute, but Jenni Hermoso’s penalty attempt was expertly saved by Earps, who anticipated the direction perfectly. Spain’s journey to this victory was also marked by off-field struggles, with 15 players stepping away from the national team for mental health reasons and a call for a more professional environment. However, the reconciliation of key players, Ona Batlle, Aitana Bonmatí, and Mariona Caldentey, with the federation proved pivotal.

England’s Bittersweet Journey

England, with momentum from their European Championship win, entered the tournament as strong contenders. However, injuries to key players, including captain Leah Williamson, Fran Kirby, and Beth Mead, hindered their World Cup campaign. Coach Sarina Wiegman, despite leading her teams to back-to-back World Cup finals, was left empty-handed for the second time.

Key Moments in the Final

The final was not without its drama, including a brief interruption by a pitch invader in the 25th minute and Lauren Hemp’s close call that saw her shot rebound off the crossbar in the 16th minute. Ella Toone started for England, while Lauren James joined the game in the second half. Spain’s 19-year-old sensation, Salma Paralluelo, made her presence felt throughout the match, coming close to scoring on several occasions. However, England’s determined defense and Earps’ exceptional saves kept the scoreline close.

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