Salma Paralluelo, Spain get past Netherlands to reach first ever semifinals

Salma Paralluelo scored late in extra time to lift Spain past the Netherlands on Friday in New Zealand

Spain nearly let it slip away late, but it’s headed into the World Cup semifinals for the first time in history.

Spain, thanks to a clutch goal from Salma Paralluelo in the 111th minute of what turned out to be a tight battle, beat the Netherlands 2-1 in their quarterfinals match at Wellington Regional Stadium in New Zealand on Friday afternoon (Thursday night in the U.S.).

Spain is now the first team to reach the semifinals in the tournament. It’ll await either Japan or Sweden next week.

Spain appeared in control for much of the match, but a late equalizer in regulation sparked a tight fight late in Wellington. Yet it was Paralluelo, who entered the game in the 71st minute for Alba Redondo, who finally broke the tie and pushed Spain to the win.

After two straight misses from Dutch forward Lineth Beerensteyn on the other end of the field, Paralluelo secured a pass up the left side of the field and expertly drilled a left-footed shot off the far post and in for the 19-year-old’s first World Cup goal.

That gave Spain a 2-1 lead, and eventually pushed La Roja to the win.

Spain had several chances early on, but couldn’t get a goal to fall. It missed several moments in the first half, and let another slip away in the first few seconds of the second period, too. Finally, though, it caught a break in the 81st minute.

The Netherland’s Stefanie van der Gragt was called for a very clear handball that, after a review, was determined to be just barely inside the box on a Spain attack. That led to a penalty kick for Spain.

Mariona Caldentey then banked in the kick off the left post and in, finally giving Spain a 1-0 lead.

That lead didn’t hold, and van der Gragt recovered perfectly.

In the first minute of stoppage time, she broke away while just barely staying onside and scored a deep goal to tie the match right back up. It marked her second of the tournament, and sparked a huge celebration for the Dutch.

The goal gave the Netherlands new life, which it carried into extra time. While Beerensteyn had two great looks in the second extra time period, Spain and Paralluelo rallied to secure the win and keep their World Cup run alive.

Spain reached the quarterfinals after a dominant 5-1 win over Switzerland last week. Aitana Bonmatí scored twice in the first half in that match, which sent it into the quarterfinals for the first time in team history.

The Netherlands advanced to the quarterfinals after a 2-0 win over South Africa in their Round of 16 match. Jill Roord and Beerensteyn — who had plenty to say about the U.S. women’s national team’s early exit from the World Cup on Thursday — each scored in that win for the Dutch.

Spain will now advance to the semifinals, where it’ll take on either Japan or Sweden next week. Japan has allowed just one goal so far in the World Cup, and beat Norway 3-1 to advance into the quarterfinals. Sweden beat the United States on penalty kicks Sunday.

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