Spain won their first Women’s World Cup less than a year after the player revolt, beating England 1-0 on Sunday after a first-half goal from Olga Carmona.
The win made La Roja the first team to win the Under-17, Under-20 and Senior World Cups at the same time. Spain is the fifth winner of nine women’s editions and joins Germany as the only two countries to have won both the men’s and women’s tournaments.
At the final whistle, Spanish players piled on top of each other in front of their goal. They still danced on the field until the trophy presentation, where they kissed the trophy and raised their arms in triumph as gold shone from above.
The Lions were trying to bring the World Cup back to England for the first time since 1966, but failed to do so.
“They are a fantastic team. I think we weren’t at our best in the first half, but in the second half we definitely fired,” England captain Millie Bright said. “But yeah, we didn’t finish it today. That’s the tough part of football.”
Bright said the loss was a “huge disappointment” for England.
“You know you feel like you’ve failed by not winning first,” he said. “I think in a few weeks it will be really proud.”
Carmona’s left-footed shot in the 29th minute was the only goal in a game with heavy attacks.
During the celebration, he lifted his jersey to reveal the word “Merchi” inked on his undershirt, an obvious nod to his former school.
Carmona also scored the game-winner in the 89th minute of Spain’s 2–1 semi-final win over Sweden, becoming the first player to score in a World Cup semi-final and final since Carli Lloyd in 2015.
Spain had a chance to double their lead in the 68th minute, but Jenny Hermoso’s penalty attempt was saved by Mary Earps, who dived to her left perfectly.
Spain’s victory came despite a near-mutiny by the players last year. Fifteen players said they stepped away from the national team because of their mental health, but also called for a more professional environment.
Three of those players – Ona Batlle, Aitana Bonmati and Mariona Caldentey – have reconciled with the federation and were at the World Cup.
England had momentum heading into the tournament after winning the European Championship at home last summer. But three of the team’s best players, captain Leah Williamson, Fran Kirby and Beth Mead, suffered knee injuries that ruled them out of the World Cup squad.
Sarina Wiegman, head coach of the England team, was the first coach to lead her team to consecutive World Cup championship matches. In 2019, he led the Netherlands to the final, but lost 2-0 to the USA. He is now 0-2 in the championship game.
England won 3-1 against hosts Australia in the semi-finals. Lauren James, the team’s leading scorer with three goals and three assists, was forced to miss two games after being penalized for stepping on Nigeria’s Michelle Alozi to open the playoffs.
While James was able to make the final, Wiegman started Ella Toone and used the Chelsea winger as a second-half substitute in a double change to spark the attack.
One of England’s best chances came in the 16th minute when Lauren Hamp’s shot blazed over the crossbar. A minute later, Salma Paralluelo drove toward the goal but was unable to get a clear shot, and Earps stopped Alba Redondo’s attempt to find the back of the net.
Head coach Jorge Vilda started the 19-year-old Paralluelo. It was Paralluelo who scored Spain’s goal against Sweden and overtime victory over the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. These efforts helped him win the young player of the tournament award, Earps won the Golden Glove for the best goalkeeper and the Golden Ball for the best player of the Bonmati World Cup.
Paralluelo almost scored in the second half, but his shot hit the post.
Hemp had another chance in the 54th but sent it wide. A minute later he was booked for a foul on Laia Kodina.
Spain had a chance to double their lead midway through the second half after video review awarded a penalty following Keira Walsh’s handball. But Earps kept England in the game as he did with his late saves.
Villa still struggled to work around two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who is back from an ACL last year. For the final, Putellas was on the bench at the start.
Putellas entered the game 15 seconds into regulation, but there was a 13-minute stoppage time.
After the match, Putellas broke down in tears as his teammates danced in front of flag-raising fans behind the team’s bench.
The final at Stadium Australia was attended by 75,784 fans, including tennis player Billie Jean King.
Last year, these two teams met in the quarter-finals of the Euros, with England beating Spain 2-1 with a goal from Georgia Stanway in extra time.