Wednesday, 6 December 2023, 07:49
Spain concluded the Nations League group phase in spectacular fashion on Tuesday night, mounting a dramatic comeback to beat Sweden 5-3 in front of a record-breaking crowd at La Rosaleda stadium in Malaga.
Things didn't go at all to plan in the first half. In fact, they went behind within a minute thanks to Julia Zigotti's header from a corner.
Unperturbed, Spain, playing in Malaga for the first time, continued to showcase their normal possession-based style and after Olga Carmona hit the post, Salma Paralluelo levelled the scores with a header.
But despite seemingly having regained control, Montse Tomé's side found themselves behind again, when Stina Blackstenius's precise pass opened up their defence, leaving Kosovare Asllani with the simple task of chipping the ball past Misa Rodríguez.
Spain then had several chances, but it was Sweden who got the next goal as Blackstenius added the finishing touch to a pass from Johanna Kaneryd from the right, making it 3-1 to the visitors at half time.
Despite the scoreline, the 15,896 supporters inside the stadium - a new record for a women's national team game in Spain, beating the previous best at the Nuevo Arcángel in Cordoba (14,194 against Switzerland) - backed their side. And the reward didn't take long to arrive.
Just six minutes after the restart, Olga Carmona's cross found Athenea in the middle of the area - and she didn't miss.
The phase of the match that followed then saw Spain recapture their World Cup form; they gave everything in search of an equaliser, making offensive substitutions and taking risks, which resulted in Mariona Caldentey's volley levelling the scores at 3-3, setting up a big final ten minutes.
Then, with 81 minutes on the clock, the comeback was complete: Fiamma Benítez's debut goal sealed the win, before Mariona secured her brace with stoppage time approaching.
With their spot already secured in the final four, the world champions brilliantly capped off an unforgettable year for women's football in Spain, as they now set their sights on qualifying for the Paris Olympics.
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