Spain survive clash of titans
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The champions of Europe managed to edge the champions of South America as Spain now head to the semi-finals of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago at the expense of pre-tournament favourites Brazil. The South Americans were always second-best in Couva on Friday as the talented Spaniards will now meet Korea Republic in the last four.

Spain were first to look dangerous at the Ato Boldon Stadium when Nagore Calderon slipped her marker, raced into an advanced position and cross dangerously after only five minutes. Sara Merida – who was rested for the last game against Venezuela – ducked low and got her head to the ball, but could only guide it against the crossbar to a sigh of relief from the slow-starting South Americans.

The match settled down after that early chance, with most of the action taking place in the middle of the park. Glaucia had a decent chance on the quarter hour, collecting a ball from deep on the break, but the first bit of business for Spanish goalkeeper Dolores Gallardo was hardly challenging and she collected with ease. Four minutes on and Spain were looking dangerous with Raquel Pinel’s shot into the arms of Daniela hardly doing justice to the quality of the build-up which involved Amanda Sampedro and Merida.

The Europeans continued to flex their muscles with some smashing ball movement and understanding in midfield. The Brazilians, however, were looking likely to grab a goal on the break. On the half hour Thais missed the best chance of the half when Gallardo made a hash of her punch, but the Santos player could only hit over an open goal from 18 yards out. The Spaniards took advantage and finally carved the breakthrough that their good play warranted in the 35th minute. Alexia Putellas swung in a nice cross from the left that was missed by Ingrid, but slammed home with authority by Pinel. Shortly after, Sampedro had another a good chance to make it two only for her shot to slam off the bar. The Brazilians could have equalised right at the death of the first half, but Thais was also denied by the woodwork.

Brazil failed to take a shot on goal for the entire first 30 minutes of the second period, with Las Rojitas very much in command. The South American champions were also let down by their defence in the 65th minute. Daniella rolled the ball out to Lucimara, who was harried incessantly by the Spanish attackers. She ended up coughing up the ball and Calderon showed her gratitude for the gift by racing in and scoring the simplest of goals. When Brazil did manage to get the ball into the net, it was the result of an unfortunate Spanish own goal. Beatriz’s long-range free-kick was headed home by the luckless Ivana Andres in the 76th minute.

The goal brought Brazil back into the contest briefly and Spain were rescued by a few great saves from Gallardo in the closing moments of the match. The Brazilians now join their fellow South Americans Chile and Venezuela on a flight back home, the quarter-finals marking their farthest run in the history of the U-17 women's finals . Spain now move on to the last four, one step away from the ultimate match, where they will take on Korea Republic in Arima at the Larry Gomes Stadium on 21 September.