Spain reaches the “Women’s World Cup” semi-finals after Paralluelo’s decisive goal seals a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands.

Spain’s teenage winger Salma Paralluelo emerged from the bench to score a crucial goal in the 111th minute, propelling Spain into their first Women’s World Cup semi-final by defeating the Netherlands.

During regular time, Mariona Caldentey appeared to secure Spain’s victory with an 80th-minute penalty, driving the ball into the net via the post after Stefanie van der Gragt’s handball foul in the box. Van der Gragt later turned the situation around, levelling the score with a stoppage-time equaliser. However, in extra time, Paralluelo found an opening in the box and skillfully netted a goal, securing Spain’s first major semi-final in 26 years.

While the Netherlands, the 2019 runners-up, struggled to keep up with Spain’s gameplay, they missed a critical opportunity to take the lead just seconds before the winning goal. Lineth Beerensteyn fired over from close range.

Paralluelo, aged 19, received a pass from Jenni Hermoso and maintained her composure as she struck the ball perfectly off the left post, becoming Spain’s youngest scorer at a Women’s World Cup and emerging as a new star.

In describing her achievement, Paralluelo expressed her happiness and excitement, emphasising the unique and euphoric nature of the moment. Coach Jorge Vilda highlighted the team’s perseverance during extra time, describing their extraordinary performance and emotional commitment.

Spain will face Japan or Sweden in the semi-finals next Tuesday. Before Paralluelo’s remarkable contribution, the match appeared poised to be defined by the “video assistant referee (VAR).”

Spain initially seemed to have taken the lead at the 37-minute mark when Esther Gonzalez slammed the ball in from close range after Alba Redondo’s volley deflected into her path. However, the goal was disallowed upon review due to offside.

Despite the VAR controversies, Spain’s dominance was evident. The Netherlands were left disappointed in the second half when referee Stephanie Frappart initially awarded a penalty for Irene Paredes’ challenge on Beerensteyn, only to later reverse her decision.

While the Netherlands’ manager, Andries Jonker, criticised VAR for not functioning correctly, he acknowledged that Spain’s victory was deserved. Ultimately, the spotlight fell on substitute Paralluelo, the latest teenage sensation to shine at this World Cup.

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