Spain Beat Dutch To Reach First World Cup Semi

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By Our Correspondent

Teenage winger Salma Paralluelo came off the bench to score a 111th-minute winner as Spain beat the Netherlands to reach the Women’s World Cup semi-finals for the first time.

Mariona Caldentey had appeared to give Spain the win in normal time when she slammed home an 80th-minute penalty via the post after Stefanie van der Gragt handled in the box.

Van der Gragt went from villain to hero by smashing home a stoppage-time equaliser – but Paralluelo found space in the area in extra time to put Spain’s women into their first major semi-final for 26 years.

The Netherlands, runners-up in 2019 where they were beaten by the USA in the final, were outplayed for long periods although they should have taken the lead seconds before the winner, when Lineth Beerensteyn fired over from yards out.

Paralluelo, 19, then received the ball from Jenni Hermoso, kept her calm in the box and struck perfectly in off the left post to become Spain’s youngest scorer at a Women’s World Cup – and their newest star.

“It means everything for me, it was a unique moment, great euphoria… I’m extremely happy,” Paralluelo said.

“We went to extra time, but the team kept on believing,” said coach Jorge Vilda. “They played on an extraordinary level, all the players, and it was a match with a lot of emotional decisions, and the goal from Salma, it was sheer joy.”

Spain will play Japan or Sweden, who meet in Auckland at 08:30 BST on Friday, in the semi-finals on Tuesday.

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