Olga Carmona struck late to lift Spain to a thrilling 2-1 semi-final win over Sweden yesterday, sending the Iberians into a first Women’s World Cup final, as the tournament signed off in New Zealand with a flurry of goals, writes scmp.com.
Wearing the captain’s armband, Carmona’s 90th-minute strike from the edge of the area pinged off the crossbar and into the net two minutes after Rebecka Blomqvist had levelled the match for Sweden in front of a baying crowd of 43,217 at Eden Park.
Spain will meet the winner of today’s semifinal between Australia and England in the final.
The game between the Matildas and the Lionesses has been overshadowed by a spying incident involving the Australian Daily Telegraph, which sent a helicopter to film Sarina Wiegman’s side as they aim to knockout hosts in much-anticipated showdown.
The semifinal showdown has been soured by a spying controversy after a helicopter was used to film the Lionesses final training session before the match in Sydney.
Despite a largely amicable build-up, the underhand methods deployed by a prominent Australian newspaper will anger players and supporters alike.
“If England’s Lionesses thought they would happily fly under the radar into the World Cup semifinal under the radar they were in for a rude shock,” boasted the Australian Telegraph.
“We’ve sent the chopper up to see how the old enemy are preparing… Welcome to the jungle, Lionesses, we’ve got fun and games.”
The newspaper went on to write: “As the Matildas held their final training session behind closed doors at Kogarah, about 100km north at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford, the England team attempted to finalise their preparations without any prying eyes.
“But just as we did last week when we wanted to know if Sam Kerr was back in full training mode or on restricted duties with her calf injury, The Daily Telegraph went to the sky with these exclusive aerial photographs of England’s final training run.
“It might not be in the spirit of football, but after last month’s men’s Ashes cricket series we will let the moral arbiters England pass judgment on what is and isn’t acceptable in the world of sport. But make no mistake, England are here to ruin Australia’s party…”
English FA has declined to comment, although the incident is bound to offer extra motivation for England’s players as they look to reach a World Cup final for the first time
The controversy comes just a few weeks after the Australian cricket team were roundly criticised in the second Test of this summer’s Ashes series when wicketkeeper Alex Carey stumped Jonny Bairstow at Lord’s after the England batsman had wandered out of his crease at the end of an over.
The incident sparked anger across the country, with the Australian team booed and then confronted by furious MCC members in the Lord’s Long Room. The chant “same old Aussies, always cheating” became a regular soundtrack to the rest of the drawn series.
There is nothing to stop domestic media outlets filming or photographing training sessions and no rules have been broken. It is not even clear, at this stage, whether the footage have been passed on to Australia’s coaching staff, although in truth, the pictures do not reveal much about England’s tactics or methods to nullify Australia’s attacking threat.