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Women’s World Cup final review: Heartache for Lionesses as Spain triumph

A total of 32 teams headed to Australia and New Zealand hoping to be crowned Women’s World Cup winners of 2023, and the trophy will be heading to Spain after they posted a 1-0 win over England in Sydney.

Both finalists survived hairy moments

This was the first final for both teams and both England and Spain needed their fair share of luck to reach it.

The Lionesses were unconvincing in 1-0 group victories over Haiti and Denmark and despite a 6-1 win over China, they needed penalties to get past Nigeria in the last 16 after Lauren James was sent off.

They also had to come from behind in their quarter-final win against Colombia.

Spain, meanwhile, were beaten 4-0 in their Group against Japan and required extra-time in their first knockout match when they saw off 2019 finalists the Netherlands.

Revenge high on the agenda for La Roja

Spain went into the final as slight favourites and were looking to get their own back on the Lionesses after England beat them in extra-time in the quarter-finals of last summer’s Euros.

And it was Sarina Wiegman’s side who had the first opportunity of the game when Lauren Hemp saw her shot bounce off the bar in the 15th minute.

That seemed to wake Spain up as they started to take control of the game with England goalkeeper Mary Earps called upon to make a sharp save from Teresa Abelleira.

However, the breakthrough came just before the half-hour when, after a well-worked move, Mariona Caldentey pushed the ball through the left channel and Olga Carmona was able to guide the ball past Earps and into the far corner.

From then, Spain offered England few first-half opportunities and Salma Paralluelo was unfortunate not to double their advantage as her injury-time shot hit the outside of the post.

Earps keeps England in it but changes don’t work

Lionesses coach Wiegman looked to galvanise her team at the interval and brought on James, who had served a two-game suspension, and Chloe Kelly, who scored the winning goal in the Euros final win over Germany last year.

However, they were still unable to create any clear-cut chances and a second goal looked a distinct possibility.

Earps had to be at the top of her game to deny Caldentey doubling La Roja’s advantage but then Spain were given a penalty after a lengthy VAR delay following a handball by England midfielder Keira Walsh.

Jenni Hermoso stepped up to take the kick and Earps dived to her left to collect the ball.

But this did not have the morale-boosting effect that England supporters were looking for and they were unable to muster a telling opportunity as Spain negotiated 13 minutes of injury time to claim their first glocal women’s crown.

Future bright for Spain

La Roja finished the tournament as its top goalscorers as they found the net 18 times and their Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmati took away the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.

They also completed a unique treble as Spain were crowned world champions at both Under-17 and Under-20 last year, which should bode well for when they defend their trophy in 2027.

The venue for the next World Cup has yet to be decided as countries who would like to host need to complete their application to Fifa by December.

Meanwhile, domestic thoughts will turn to the Women’s Super League, which is due to start on Friday 29th September.

Chelsea are 1/1 to successfully defend their title with Arsenal available at 15/2. Manchester City can be backed at 4/1 while their arch-rivals United are 6/1.

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