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Spain defeats England to claim first Women’s World Cup

Olga Carmona’s goal secured Spain’s first title, a culmination of years of investment into the women’s game.

Spain v England: Final - FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

It was a frigid winter night in Sydney when the Spanish revolution peaked, only four years after their initial victory in the Women’s World Cup. In the final match of the highly successful 2023 Women’s World Cup, La Roja defeated England 1-0 to claim their first title.

The climax was marked by a fantastic goal from Olga Carmona, which sealed the only 2023 Women’s World Cup final score. It was a fitting end to an incredible match. The tournament showcased the evolution of soccer as it became a more technical and tactical game. With their modern expertise, Spain has played a significant role in shaping and driving this evolution.

From the 1st minute to the 14th minute of second half stoppage, the Spanish team withstood England’s direct attacks. They strategically broke through England’s defense with rondos, poise, and well-timed runs. In the 13th minute, they started their play from the back and went to the front. Four minutes later, Olga Carmona made a slick attacking move and passed the ball, but neither of the two attackers could finish. However, in the 29th minute, Carmona took matters into her own hands and scored a goal by shooting the ball into the far side netting.

Spain had been applying pressure on England’s team, which caused the Lionesses to lose confidence and belief in their ability to control the ball.

In the 29th minute, Lucy Bronze, England’s right wingback, carried the ball into midfield, but her teammates remained static, allowing Spain to swarm her. Spain dispossessed Bronze, and Teresa Abelleira saw Mariona Caldentey free in the vacant right space. Carmona then sprinted forward, overloading England’s defense and scoring the decisive goal with textbook technique, similar to how she had won the semifinals.

Despite a year full of tension and rebellion after a frustrating 2-1 loss to England in last summer’s Euros, Spain managed to become the last team standing in Sydney. Following that defeat in the 2022 Euros, the players confronted their coach, Jorge Vilda, and the soccer federation with several core concerns. Unfortunately, the federation responded by publicizing private emails, rebuking the players, and causing drama, division, and anxiety in the following months.

Still, this building of a champion has been accelerated by the top soccer clubs in the country gradually investing in girls’ and women’s soccer. This aligns with the overall women’s empowerment movement happening in Spanish society.

From 2003 to 2018, the number of female soccer players registered in Spain increased fourfold. This was made possible by better coaching, facilities, and environments, resulting in the emergence of top players who won European championships in youth levels during the 2010s. In 2018, they triumphed in the Under-17 Women’s World Cup; in 2022, they won both the U-17 and U-20 tournaments.

Speaking after the final whistle, Captain Irene Paredes said that some of the players had grown up thinking that football was not for them, but now they had proven themselves on the world stage. The reserves were ecstatic, spilling onto the field to celebrate with the rest of the team. They hugged, danced, cried, and screamed with joy. Aitana Bonmatí, the tournament’s Golden Ball winner, summed up their feelings with a loud and triumphant “Vamos!”