Spain are safely through to the final of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Costa Rca 2014, but they were made to work extremely hard for their showpiece berth. Put under serious pressure by Italy in the opening half of their last-four joust, La Rojita made the difference from a pair of penalties after the break and their opponents were never able to respond.
Voted Live Your Goals Player of the Match in the quarter-final win against Nigeria, Patri Guijarro is one of the team's stalwarts, a rock in the side that finished runners-up in the recent UEFA European Women's U-17 Championship.
She is just as calm and composed off the pitch too, and she told FIFA.com after Spain secured their final spot: "The first half was difficult and they caused us lots of problems, but the fact that we scored quickly after the interval was like a release. After that, there was more space for us and we had more chances. We were able to able to find our poise again, play the way we like to play and do what we do best with the ball."
Crucially, she and her team-mates were also able to find the words that mattered during half-time, when they were fortunate to leave the field still on level terms with Le Azzurrine. "We weren't happy with how we played in the first half," she said. "We spoke in the dressing room and we all motivated each other. The coach led the way, reminding us what we're capable of, but above all we all reacted together as a squad."
Individual talent clearly played its part too, of course. Looking almost a different team after the restart, Spain came out with greater confidence in their technique, attempting dribbles and waltzing past their opponents with ease. Frustrated, Italy finally cracked and twice committed fouls in the area.
"Even if our two goals came from the spot, I know we'd have ended up scoring against them one way or another, given the technical and tactical superiority we'd managed to impose," explained Patri, her voice full of confidence.
Like the rest of her colleagues, the midfielder had to help make up for a notable absence in the game as well, with key performer Pilar Garrote suspended. "We knew she wouldn't be there and we prepared for that as a result," she said. "It's true that we didn't have our usual starting line-up, but in the end we were able to rediscover our way of playing and our style."
They will also be back to full strength in the final, when they take on Japan keen to avenge avenge their opening loss to the Asian heavyweights in Group C. "The first thing we need to do is savour and celebrate this victory," said Patri. "Tomorrow morning we'll then start work on preparing to get revenge against Japan and examining the reasons we lost 2-0 to them in our first match."