It seemed that it would be, once again, the never-ending story, that the phrase that he played like never before and lost like always would be repeated. Reminiscences of the last two dismounted by Spain in the big events, in the 2019 World Cup against the United States and in the 2022 Euro Cup against England, where they played football but not victory. It turned out, however, that Mariona first and Salma in the second part of extra time refuted Michael Ende and his Neverending Story, stilettos of a Spain that played and beat the Spanish, the triumph that rewrites his history.
Cata Coll, Irene Paredes, Ona Batlle, Oihane Hernández, Laia Codina, Teresa Abelleira, Aitana Bonmatí, Jenni Hermoso, Mariona Caldentey, Esther González and Alba Redondo
Daphne van Domselaar, Dominique Janssen, Stefanie van der Gragt, Sherida Spitse, Victoria Pelova, Jill Roord, Jackie Groenen, Esmee Brugts, Damaris Egurrola, Lineth Beerensteyn y Lieke Martens
Goals 1-0 min. 80: Mariona Caldentey. 1-1 min. 91: Stefanie van der Gragt. 2-1 min. 111: Salma Paralluelo.
Referee Stephanie Frappart
Yellow cards Oihane Hernández (min. 35) and Damaris Egurrola (min. 60)
Vilda decided to give continuity to the revolution, a team modeled on the one that swept Switzerland in the quarterfinals with the exception of Mariona’s entry for Salma, a winger with less overflow and travel, although with more effort and ease to keep the ball against the square that formed the tulips in the center. It was also a major success because the soccer player interpreted the spaces and the duel like no one else, since the Dutch proposal, which accumulated players inside, required playing in a dismissive and precise way, the one that La Roja defends because they prefer the pass to the race and the touch to the physical, since the little ones or spandrels must release the ball before receiving the tarascada. And as the foot prevailed, Spain was meant.
Although it was difficult for her to conjugate the ball from behind, stuck in the face of advanced rival harassment, the one that broke the line arrived with equal pieces to the opposite field. Eden for Mariona, who recounted her game with runs and centers, with gifted football. In one of those, she found Esther to draw a wall with Jenni and be left alone before Van Domselaar. But between shooting or passing, stuttering feet, she chose the middle path and the occasion was left in borage water. Although she beat Spain on the left, Mariona squared, deeper than on other occasions, takes the center for an Alba Redondo who, after a diagonal, attacked him with her head; shot that the goalkeeper deflected with the mitt, ball to the post. In the rejection, forced and with her bad leg (her right), Alba tried her luck again, to take an unfortunate slap in the face because the post, damn, spit the ball out again.
The Netherlands did not reply too much, perhaps with the runs of Lineth Bolt Beerensteyn, all of them disoriented in any case due to the scarcity of the ball between their feet, only accentuated with an advanced harassment that did make Spain shiver at times, tremors of responsibility and pressure. Like that pass-rock back to Cata that instead of throwing it at Conchinchina she tried to put it into play, a ball for the rival that could well have hit the target, in the end the play was canceled because the ball had come out of the bottom. Or an arm raised by Laia Codina in a corner kick that almost touched the ball… But little more because La Roja amassed the round and because the duel was played on the other side of the net, where Jenni and Aitana played quarterbacks, where Esther and Mariona tested the medium distance shot. There was more to go, red effervescence, a spectacle by Mariona, who with a control at the turn jumped another line of pressure and put a new cross for Alba, who hit her with the inside and badly, but at least for an Esther who put the loop to send it to the network. It was a goal, but it wasn’t worth it, offside deciphered by the VAR. Many occasions for no goal, an echo of the hackneyed phrase of the one who forgives pays it.
The Spanish players celebrate Mariona’s penalty goal. AARON GILLIONS (EFE)
It all started as it ended after the intermission, cut by Esther – a little giantess who fought with the world to stretch the field and create spaces – and whiplash, a ball that tickled the post on the outside. More of the same and even less from the Netherlands, who still couldn’t find Jill Roord (she ended up replaced) or Martens, total nonsense, penalized because Spain didn’t slow down, because they took all the second plays. Although the Netherlands maintained its spiciness, Beerensteyn’s hypersonic runs, his mouth scared because he won the race to the centrals and because when he noticed contact from behind Paredes, he jumped into the area to provoke a penalty. The VAR, once again, discredited the whistle, keep going, keep going, because Paredes put his body in with the position won. Holland then understood that her football had to be set up with long movements and behind the rival defense, balls that, however, Cata Coll deactivated with her feet and cold blood. Enough to regain the ball and the initiative, to rule again in the center of the field.
And now with Salma on the field, legs so that I love you, La Roja put another gear, bankruptcies and sprints, also a cross that turned into poison because Van der Gragt put his hand and unconsciousness, a penalty that did not see the shot collegiate but the VAR did because the limb was inside the area. Mariona, on fire, asked Jenni for the ball – she missed one against Costa Rica – and challenged Van Domselaar. Shot with the right crossed and low, to the post and to the net, the rebellion of Spain. Or almost.
More than anything because the Netherlands advanced the lines and Spain, somewhat timorous, decided to delay theirs, while Vilda opted for muscle –Irene Guerrero for Aitana– rather than control. Loss of the initiative to tie the result, loss of direction. Wow for the Netherlands, always physical and running like hell, deep balls that did more than pupate the opposing defense. So much so that the tulip chances arrived, one from Beerensteyn, another from Snoeljs and, one more, the final one, from Van der Gragt, a break from behind and a stupendous definition: a tie in added time. The ghosts of Spain reappeared, nightmares already lived, extension in sight.
Without so many legs or oxygen, Spain then tried to play what it knows, football that shelled a more physically complete Holland. Vilda also bet on what is known, to return to her roots, to put Alexia to safeguard the ball and catapult it, also to accelerate it in the hot zones with Eva Navarro. And a cross from him was well worth Jenni’s shot and Van Domselaar’s stretch. Spain returned to play, to smile. But Beerensteyn had more gasoline, more races to offer, like the one that he planted against Cata, a good chance and a poor definition. Holland, Holland!” the stadium reverberated. Deaf ears for Salma, who, an athlete by vocation and a soccer player by devotion, mixed her passions to play Speedy Gonsalez, to receive the ball on the run, invent a dribble and hit the cross shot, again to the post, although this time she did , inside. Thus, Spain will debut in a World Cup semifinal. Thanks to the choral game, thanks to Mariona from Spain and thanks to Salma with a cape.
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