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SUPER SALMA | Paralluelo, Spain storm into World Cup semis

Spain's forward #18 Salma Paralluelo (C) celebrates scoring her team's second goal during the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women's World Cup quarter-final football match between Spain and the Netherlands at Wellington Stadium on August 11, 2023. (Photo by Grant Down / AFP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — Teenager Salma Paralluelo hit an extra-time winner as Spain beat the Netherlands 2-1 at the Women’s World Cup on Friday to set up a semifinal clash with Japan or Sweden.

Over a tense 90 minutes in Wellington full of incident, Mariona Caldentey scored an 81st-minute penalty for Spain, only for Dutch defender Stefanie van der Gragt to equalize in added time 10 minutes later.

With the quarterfinal seemingly headed for penalties, Paralluelo, 19, came off the bench to produce a brilliant solo finish.

The result sets Spain up for a semifinal against Sweden or Japan in Auckland on Tuesday while the tournament is over for the Dutch, beaten finalists four years ago.

A match largely dominated by Spain — and some VAR decisions — burst into life late in normal time.

Paralluelo’s winner capped a display of controlled attacking football from the sixth-ranked La Roja, who have regained their swagger after crashing to a 4-0 group-stage loss to Japan, having crushed Switzerland in the Round of 16.

Spain hit the post twice and had a goal ruled out for offside, although the Dutch could also consider themselves unlucky to have a penalty awarded but then overruled midway through the second half.

Spain completely dominated the first half, making 11 unanswered attempts on goal.

The Dutch were rescued by the woodwork twice in quick succession when Alba Redondo’s header was parried onto the post by goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar and her follow-up nearly hit the same spot low down on the left post.

Spain captain Esther Gonzalez, who was a constant menace, lashed a shot into the net from a Redondo mis-hit but the striker was ruled offside by VAR.

The Netherlands regained a foothold in the second half.

They looked set to go in front when Lineth Beerensteyn tumbled over in the box following contact with Irene Paredes, who was shown a yellow card as French referee Stephanie Frappert pointed to the spot.

Frappert was advised by VAR to review and ruled there wasn’t sufficient contact from Paredes, who had her yellow card withdrawn, much to the animated displeasure of Beerensteyn.

Spain went ahead from the spot in the 81st minute through Caldentey after Paralluelo’s cross struck Van der Gragt’s flailing hand just inside the penalty box.

Inter Milan defender Van der Gragt made amends in the first minute of stoppage time when her surging run was found by Victoria Pelova before blasting past Cata Coll inside the far post of the Spanish goal.

The Netherlands had the better chances in extra time, going close twice through Beerensteyn before conceding the decisive goal.

World Player of the Year Alexia Putellas, who is recovering from a knee injury, was introduced off the Spanish bench during extra time.

However, they will be without defender Oihane Hernandez for the semi-final after she was shown a yellow card for a foul.

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