Spain gain first World Cup semi-final berth

Teresa Abelleira of Spain during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Quarter Final Photo: Masanori Udagawa

Substitute Salma Paralluelo scored in extra time to lift Spain to a nervy 2-1 victory over the Netherlands and into the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup for the first time.

The sixth-ranked La Roja, who had not advanced past the round of 16 in two previous Football World Cup appearances, will face either Japan or Sweden for a place in the final in Auckland on Tuesday.

Mariona Caldentey scored Spain’s other goal with a penalty kick in the 81st minute after Dutch defender Stefanie Van der Gragt had handled the ball inside the box.

Van der Gragt, in her final World Cup appearance, earned some redemption when she equalised in the 91st minute to send the game to extra time in front of 32,021 fans at Wellington Regional Stadium.

Spain’s historic progress comes despite an ugly player revolt in the build-up to the tournament.

Fifteen players declared themselves unavailable for selection in September, saying events with the national team had impacted their emotional and physical health. They directed the bulk of complaints at coach Jorge Vilda.

The Spanish federation backed the coach but only six of the mutineers returned to play at the World Cup.