In a tense night of football, Spain left it late to beat Denmark 0-1 and confirm their quarter-final spot at Euro 2022.
Spain dominated the game from start to finish but really struggled to break through the resolute Danish defence until right at the end when two substitutes combined to get the massive goal.
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Olga Carmona came on at half-time for the feisty Leila Ouahabi, who had gotten herself booked. Carmona had provided more thrust down the left but it wasn’t until the 90th minute when she was released and curled a gorgeous cross to the back-post.
The ball sailed over the Danish defence and found another half-time sub in Marta Cardona, who rose highly and thumped an impressive, Alexandra Popp-style header into the back of the net.
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The win guaranteed Spain’s place as the runner’s up in Group B, although they were already going to secure that spot with a 0-0 draw owing to their superior goal difference.
However playing for a 0-0 had them on a tightrope, and as the game wore on and they failed to score, tensions rose. Denmark, who needed to win, began to counter-attack with more thrust and purpose.
Sandra Panos was called into action more often, especially when Nadia Nadim came on and stung her palms with a high shot. Irene Paredes had to put in a magnificent performance to keep the chances down to a minimum, but even then it felt like this was going to end in heartbreak for Spain but Carmona and Cardona saved the day.
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Spain now head to Brighton for a quarter-final on Wednesday 20th July, and the only downside is that they will be playing tournament favourites England who have thus far won all three of their games by an aggregate score of 14-0.
If Spain had the services of Jenni Hermoso and Ballon d’Or holder Alexia Putellas, they might be confident of beating the hosts. But without the best player in the world and their main striker, Spain can too often fall into the same negative patterns.
Against both Germany and Denmark, Spain were the dominant side in the match, but their struggles in front of goal made that dominance almost pointless. Spain manager Jorge Vilda has tried different combinations of players and nothing seems to work. Next up is the biggest test they could possibly face: how will they fare? Time will tell.