Spain were crowned world champions for the first time thanks to a goal from their young captain Olga Carmona against England (1-0), reigning European champions, in an unprecedented final of the Women’s World Cup , Sunday in Sydney.
It only took three editions (2015, 2019, 2023) for La Roja to take off on the roof of the world. Jostled before the World Cup by extra-sporting storms between the players and the federation and especially the coach Jorge Vilda, the Spaniards beat the English, favorites, to become world champions for the first time in their history.
The youth, creativity and Spanish passing game took precedence over the experience and phlegm of the English, far from their usual serenity. The Spaniards celebrated their title on the podium, while the English were marked with their heads down.
“We’ve been trying to figure this out for days. We do not realize: we are world champions. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had in football, in my life,” said team executive Jennifer Hermoso.
Carmona, double savior
After two lost semi-finals, the English, crowned European champions last year, also played their first World Cup final, but missed the last step. Sarina Wiegman’s players failed to bring back that world title that England have been waiting for since the men’s world title in 1966.
As in 2019 with the Netherlands, the coach finished vice-world champion, after a European title.
Olga Carmona’s teammates have followed the path of the youngest, after the U17 and U20 world titles in 2022. These three titles were won by the nugget Salma Paralluelo, aged 19, elected best young player of the tournament.
In a first period, disturbed by the incursion of a spectator with a “Free Ukraine” t-shirt on the field and where spaces were often found, the Spaniards took advantage of an error by the English defender of FC Barcelona Lucy Bronze, who lost the ball in the center circle.
Perfectly shifted to the left, the 23-year-old Spanish captain, Olga Carmona, crossed her shot directly low to the ground and deceived Mary Earps (29th). It was she who had already scored the winning goal in the semi-final against Sweden (2-1).
And the English did not get up from the goal. Even in a new system put in place by Wiegman after returning from the locker room, the English continued to be in difficulty, in particular because of the Spanish leader Aitana Bonmati (50th), author of a powerful strike just above the bar (62nd).
Mary Earps tried to keep her teammates alive by stopping a penalty, whistled for a handball from Keira Walsh in the box and badly shot by Jennifer Hermoso. (70th)
Shaken by the game and the technique of La Roja, the English could not count on Lauren James, back from suspension after her bad gesture against Nigeria, even if she was not far from deceiving Cata Coll (76th) .
Vilda, hated and sacred
Until then, Spain had never even won a knockout match at a World Cup and this achievement is even more impressive given the extra-sporting context of the selection.
La Roja experienced an earthquake that threatened the emergence of its women’s team, after fifteen internationals announced last September that they no longer wanted to play for the selection again. Sources quoted in the local press spoke of the methods deemed “dictatorial” by Jorge Vilda.
But the technician, supported by his Federation during this unprecedented crisis, remained. And he has retained his legitimacy through a series of exceptional results, marked by this historic title.
Since then, three of the 15 “rebels” have returned for the World Cup and one of them, Barça midfielder Aitana Bonmati, was also among the best players of the tournament, making the Golden Ball Alexia forget. Putellas, physically inside and back at the end of the match (90th).
She showed character, pushing her teammates to calmness, in a tense end to the match and broken by faults. Her very good World Cup makes Bonmati, elected player of the tournament, the favorite for the future Ballon d’Or.
In front of 75,700 spectators at the Australia stadium, this final was the final act of a tournament full of novelties and surprises.