Spain win thrilling semi to reach maiden final 

Spain got a second-half winner from Patri Guijarro to defeat hosts France 1-0 and advance to the final of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2018. This despite La Rojita playing the final quarter of Monday’s semi-final with ten players.

In front of a passionate crowd at the Stade de la Rabine in Vannes, both sides contributed to a hard-fought encounter, with chances traded at both ends in the first half. Guijarro and captain Maite Oroz missed the target with opportunities for Spain, while at the other end, Emelyne Laurent and Helene Fercocq forced saves from Spain goalkeeper Catalina Coll.

Five minutes before the break, Spain midfielder Damaris Egurrola forced a goalline clearance from France left-back Selma Bacha to keep the scoreline goalless at half-time.

The match came to life in the second half, with the European U-19 champions taking the lead following a throw-in deep in the France half on 51 minutes. Lucia Rodriguez’s cross from the right found the head of Guijarro, who nodded home for her tournament-leading sixth goal of France 2018.

The goal raised the tempo of this semi-final contest even further, with the first red card of the competition coming just past the midway point of the second half. Spain’s Aitana Bonmati was shown a second yellow card for her challenge on Bacha at the halfway line.

France then had a glorious chance to level matters when they were awarded a penalty with 15 minutes remaining after Spain centre-back Laia Aleixandri was adjudged to have handled the ball in her own box. Marie-Antoinette Katoto took the spot-kick for Les Bleuettes, but Coll did brilliantly to deny her.

Seeking an equaliser, France used the extra player to press Spain hard in the final stages, but La Rojita withstood all that the hosts could throw at them, as Pedro Lopez’s side reached their maiden U-20 Women’s World Cup final, where they will face Japan in Vannes on Friday evening.

France, meanwhile, face England in the match for third place in Vannes on Friday afternoon.

“Dare To Shine” Player of the Match: Catalina Coll (ESP)