Extra special Salma Paralluelo seals Spain's Women's World Cup semi-final spot

Teenager scores 111th minute winner against the Netherlands on Friday

Spain's Salma Paralluelo celebrates scoring the winner against the Netherlands in their Women's World Cup quarter-final. Reuters
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Teenager Salma Paralluelo scored an extra-time winner as Spain beat the Netherlands 2-1 to reach the Women's World Cup semi-finals for the first time on Friday.

Over a tense 90 minutes in Wellington full of incident, Mariona Caldentey scored an 81st-minute penalty for Spain, only for Stefanie van der Gragt to equalise in added time.

With the quarter-final seemingly headed for penalties, 19-year-old substitute Paralluelo produced a brilliant solo finish in the 111th minute to put Spain into the last four.

The former sprinter showcased her speed for the goal, racing up the pitch before sidestepping a defender and firing a left-footed shot that ricocheted off the post and in.

"[Coach Jorge Vilda] told me to be sure that I was open for the passes, that I could be in the right spaces and to compete, compete as much as I could," said Paralluelo.

"I had that opportunity and I was lucky to score so I'm very happy."

On the other hand, it was not the fairytale finish that Van der Gragt might have envisioned, with both a goal and a costly hand ball in the defeat to Spain.

But Spain coach Vilda said the 30-year-old, who played for the Dutch team for the last time on Friday, "deserves a statue."

Van der Gragt's obvious hand ball in the 81st minute led to Spain's first goal, but she earned a bit of redemption by scoring herself 10 minutes later to send the game to extra time.

Vilda said she will be missed.

"This kind of defender disappearing in modern football - the mentality, attitude, huge will to win, to fight, physical, strong with the head, strong over the ground. Every tackle is a tackle," Vilda said. "Not the best player in the world, but maybe the best defender.

"She has shown up for this international team for more than 100 matches [she has made 107 appearances]. One way or another, she deserves a statue.

"We respect her a lot. It's her decision. [But] if she would change her mind, she would be welcome."

Meanwhile, Sweden held off a late Japan fightback to reach the semi-finals for the fifth time with a 2-1 win at Eden Park on Friday.

The Swedes dominated the 2011 title winners for most of the evening to set up a last-four clash against Spain at the same venue on Tuesday.

Defender Amanda Ilestedt gave Sweden the lead with her fourth goal of the tournament in the 32nd minute with Filippa Angeldal adding the second from the penalty spot just after the break.

Japan continued to fight but Riko Ueki missed a 76th-minute penalty and fellow substitute Honoka Hayashi's goal 11 minutes later proved too late as Sweden held on for victory.

Updated: August 11, 2023, 11:28 AM