Teenager Salma Paralluelo hit an extra-time winner as Spain beat the Netherlands 2-1 at the Women’s World Cup on Friday to set up a semi-final clash with Japan or Sweden.
Over a tense 90 minutes in Wellington full of incident, Mariona Caldentey scored an 81st-minute penalty for Spain, only for Dutch defender Stefanie van der Gragt to equalise in added time 10 minutes later.
With the quarter-final seemingly headed for penalties, the 19-year-old substitute Paralluelo produced a brilliant solo finish in the 111th minute to put Spain into the last four for the first time.
They will now face Sweden or Japan in Auckland on Tuesday while the tournament is over for the Dutch, beaten finalists four years ago.
“It’s hard now,” said Van der Gragt, whose last game in football was an eventful one – conceding the penalty for handball, then equalising, before Paralluelo’s decisive, late intervention.
“We had the chance in extra time and we didn’t score, they had one chance and they scored. That’s football.”
It was reward for a display of controlled attacking football from the sixth-ranked La Roja, who have regained their swagger after crashing to a 4-0 group-stage loss to Japan.
The 90 minutes of normal time were largely dominated by Spain – and some VAR decisions – but it was actually the Netherlands who looked stronger in extra time, before second-half substitute Paralluelo struck on the counterattack.
VAR plays part
Jorge Vilda’s Spain dominated the first half, making 11 unanswered attempts on goal.
The Dutch were rescued by the woodwork twice in quick succession when Alba Redondo’s header was parried onto the post by goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar and her follow-up nearly hit the same spot low down on the left post.
Spain captain Esther Gonzalez, who was a constant menace, lashed a shot into the net from a Redondo mis-hit but the striker was ruled offside by VAR.
The Netherlands regained a foothold in the second half.
They looked set to go in front when Lineth Beerensteyn tumbled over in the box following contact with Irene Paredes, who was shown a yellow card as French referee Stephanie Frappert pointed to the spot.
Frappert was advised by VAR to review and ruled there wasn’t sufficient contact from Paredes, who had her yellow card withdrawn, much to the animated displeasure of Beerensteyn.
Spain went ahead from the spot with nine minutes left of normal time through Caldentey after Paralluelo’s cross struck Van der Gragt’s flailing hand inside the penalty box.
Inter Milan defender Van der Gragt made amends in the first minute of stoppage time when her surging run was found by Victoria Pelova before blasting past Cata Coll inside the far post.
The Netherlands had the better chances in extra time, going close twice through Beerensteyn before conceding the decisive goal from Barcelona forward Paralluelo.
World player of the year Alexia Putellas, who is recovering from a knee injury, was introduced off the Spanish bench during extra time.
However, they will be without defender Oihane Hernandez for the semi-final after she was shown a yellow card for a foul.