As the Spanish players celebrated their first-ever women’s Fifa World Cup final last night, one player broke away to provide the image of the tournament.
Olga Carmona’s left-foot strike in the 29th minute — finishing off a fast-breaking counterattack after England’s Lucy Bronze lost possession — remained the only goal of the final as Spain clinched a 1-0 victory.
After the trophy presentation, Bronze sat alone on England’s bench despondent until Spanish defender Ona Batlle joined her in shades of Black Caps hero Grant Elliott consoling Dale Steyn after the 2019 Cricket World Cup semifinal.
Bronze and Batlle club teammates with Spanish club Barcelona.
Spain wanted to celebrate its first Women’s World Cup trophy, not dredge up the turmoil that surrounded the team.
The victory made La Roja the first team to hold the under-17, under-20 and senior world titles at the same time. Spain is the fifth winner in nine editions of the Women’s World Cup and joined Germany as the only two nations to win both the men’s and women’s titles.
How Spain went from turmoil to World Cup winners
At the final whistle the Spanish players piled on each other in front of their goal. They were still dancing on the field until the trophy presentations, where they kissed the trophy and raised their arms triumphantly as golden glitter fell from above.
“We’ve suffered a lot throughout the past 12 months but I think everything has a reason to be. This has made us a stronger team,” Carmona said. “And it’s really incredible. I don’t know just why Spain is the world champions, but I think that we deserved it.”
Spain’s victory comes despite a near-mutiny by players last year. Fifteen players said they were stepping away from the national team for their mental health while also calling for a more professional environment.
Three of those players — Ona Batlle, Aitana Bonmatí and Mariona Caldentey — reconciled with the federation and were at the World Cup.
The victory was also a bit of redemption for La Roja, which fell to England 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the European Championship last year. England went on to win the Euros on home soil.
“I think all of us, we felt that this team had something special,” Carmona said. “I believe that we’ve shown this on the field, we’ve shown this in the group stage, in the knockout stage. We’ve been fighting until the end. We never stopped.
“Last year was different, but football gives you second chances What better chance than in a World Cup final and to be able to call ourselves world champion.”
Spain grew over the course of the tournament. After a 4-0 loss to Japan in the group stage, Spain replaced Misa Rodriguez with Cata Coll in goal. La Roja rebounded quickly by trouncing Switzerland 5-1 to kick off the knockout round and built from there.
“When we found out that we had England in the final, we analyzed them and saw how they played,” Bonmati said. “We prepared it well, we came out confident of what we were doing, of our game, of our fight, of our dedication.”
- With AP