By the time Olga Carmona landed on the grass and found herself almost unable to breathe because of a pile of teammates jumping on her, Spanish women’s soccer had been transformed.
This was her third long-range effort at trying to get past Sweden goalkeeper Zećira Mušović from distance, but Carmona kept believing and shot once more anyway. She could have missed, Sweden could have won in extra time, or more probably could have crushed Spain’s dreams in yet another penalty shootout. It didn’t really matter at that point. A couple of hours afterwards, with the stadium stands empty, Real Madrid’s left-back still could not believe she had scored from that spot the winning goal that took her national team to the World Cup final.
Spain, arriving in Australia and New Zealand after months of turmoil, won its first ever knockout game in a World Cup or European Championship, against Switzerland on August 5. Six days later, la Selección quickly raised their own bar when the Netherlands were sent home in extra time.
On the morning Spain was due to face Sweden in the World Cup semifinal, the national sports newspapers ran front pages previewing the match: “Let’s make history,” read Marca. “On the way to heaven,” stated AS with a poetic touch. One day later, with the spot in the final secured, the rest of the daily press joined in, the space reserved to the most important news piece of the morning now occupied by big pictures of the Spanish players postgame celebrations.
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