Spain Tuesday qualified for the Women’s World Cup final for the first time after a 2-1 win over Sweden.
Spain’s thrilling victory at Eden Park sets up a showdown in Sydney on Sunday with either Australia or England, who will meet in the other semifinal on Wednesday.
The semifinal in Auckland seemed to be drifting towards extra time before suddenly bursting to life when substitute Salma Paralluelo put Spain ahead with nine minutes left.
Rebecka Blomqvist equalised for Sweden in the 88th minute only for Spain’s captain, Olga Carmona to score with a superb shot in off the underside of the crossbar from the edge of the box in a frantic finale.
It has been a remarkable run for a nation who had never previously gone beyond the last 16 at a Women’s World Cup, and for a team who had been in disarray in the months leading up to the tournament.
Fifteen Spanish players told their federation last September that they no longer wished to be considered for selection, principally out of unhappiness with coach Jorge Vilda, and only three of them returned for this World Cup run.
While their dream of World Cup glory remains alive, Sweden are left with a familiar feeling after going so far at another major tournament before falling short.
This is the third time in four World Cups in which they have reached the semifinals, only to lose on each occasion.