Spain defeated England 1-0 to mark a historic achievement, winning the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup final. Salma Paralluelo scored, adding to her already impressive list of accomplishments as a world champion at the Under-17 and Under-20 levels.
The senior Spain women’s team overcame adversity to secure their first major global title at Stadium Australia. Olga Carmona scored a goal during the first half of the final, although she later received news that her father had passed away.
Spain’s win made them the first squad to concurrently hold the under-17, under-20, and senior women’s world titles. This achievement placed them alongside Germany as the only nations to secure both the men’s and women’s World Cup titles.
For the English Lionesses, the aspiration of bringing a World Cup back to England for the first time since the men’s victory in 1966 remained unfulfilled.
The match saw numerous opportunities created by both sides. Carmona’s left-foot strike in the 29th minute, which came after a swift counterattack, proved decisive.
Carmona’s impact extended beyond the final, as she had also secured the game-winning goal in the 89th minute during Spain’s 2-1 semifinal triumph over Sweden. This achievement placed her in the company of Carli Lloyd, who accomplished a similar feat in the 2015 World Cup semifinal and final.
Although Spain had a chance to widen the lead with a penalty awarded through VAR review in the 68th minute, Jenni Hermoso’s penalty attempt was thwarted by Mary Earps.
Spain’s triumph emerged against the backdrop of a near-mutiny by players the previous year. Fifteen players stepped away from the national team, citing mental health concerns and advocating for a more professional environment. Notably, Ona Batlle, Aitana Bonmatí, and Mariona Caldentey reconciled with the federation and participated in the World Cup.
The result also served as redemption for La Roja, having suffered a 2-1 loss to eventual champion England in the quarterfinals of the European championship last year.
England entered the tournament with momentum from their Euro victory, but injuries to key players such as captain Leah Williamson, Fran Kirby, and Beth Mead affected their World Cup campaign.
Sarina Wiegman achieved the distinction of becoming the first coach to lead teams to back-to-back World Cup title matches. While she had led the Netherlands to the final in 2019, she experienced a 2-0 defeat to the United States. In the championship match, she encountered a similar outcome, leading her to a 0-2 record.
One of England’s promising opportunities came in the 16th minute when Lauren Hemp’s shot struck the crossbar. Moments later, Paralluelo displayed her pace but was unable to convert, and Mary Earps thwarted Alba Redondo’s attempt in front of the net.
Having triumphed over host Australia in the semifinal with a 3-1 score, England’s Lauren James, a top scorer with three goals and three assists, returned to the lineup. Ella Toone’s inclusion and the strategic utilisation of James as a second-half substitute aimed to invigorate England’s attack.
Spain’s coach, Jorge Vilda, made the strategic decision to start 19-year-old Paralluelo, a player who had previously delivered crucial goals against Sweden and the Netherlands. Paralluelo’s contributions earned her the young player of the tournament award. Additionally, Mary Earps secured the Golden Glove for best goalkeeper, while Aitana Bonmatí claimed the Golden Ball for the World Cup’s best player.
Vilda faced the challenge of integrating two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who had been recovering from a torn ACL. Putellas started the final on the bench but entered the game in the waning seconds of regulation, which were extended by 13 minutes of stoppage time.