Salma Paralluelo has called on Spain to “face the ultimate challenge” after reaching the World Cup final with a 2-1 win against Sweden.
A cagey game with few clear-cut chances suddenly sparked into life with three goals in the last 10 minutes.
Barcelona winger Paralluelo put Spain ahead in the 81st minute before Sweden soon levelled with a cool finish from Rebecka Blomqvist.
Still only 19 and on the brink of being a 3x world champion!
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) August 15, 2023
However, just one minute later Olga Carmona grabbed the winner with a wonderful first-time strike from a short corner, and Paralluelo praised the resilience of her side, who reached their first-ever World Cup final.
“It was a very tough game. It could have been difficult to recover from their goal, but we’ve shown that this team can deal with everything,” the 19-year-old told FIFA’s website.
“We deserved this. We took this little step, and now we need that final push. Now it’s the final.
“I think we have to do what we’ve done in every match. We’ve overcome every challenge and now we face the ultimate challenge, the big one.”
Spain’s progress in this World Cup has seen them go much further than the last edition in France, where they were knocked out by the United States in the last 16.
¡¿¡¿PERO DE DÓNDE HAS SALIDO, SALMA?¡?¡? pic.twitter.com/fpL15fRHwB
— Selección Española Femenina de Fútbol (@SEFutbolFem) August 15, 2023
They will now face either England or co-hosts Australia in the final on Sunday, with those sides playing their semi-final on Wednesday.
The turning point came with Paralluelo’s introduction in the 57th minute and coach Jorge Vilda praised her impact.
He told a post-match press conference: “The plan was to control the game, to try to get them tired by the passing of the ball, our possession and reaching the goal as well, which did happen.
“We knew that they would also have their moments and to use the speed, talent and quality of Salma and other players could really open up the game in the second half.
“Today the decision was to have her as a number nine and it worked out well. I don’t have to tell you about Salma’s qualities, but she’s very young.
“In the case of Salma and her future, we have to provide her with the appropriate conditions to help her to become what we believe she can become.”