It was a story of headers and set-pieces for a much-fancied Spain, who recovered from going behind early on to secure a 4-1 victory over a valiant Finland to kick off their UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 campaign.
Less than a minute had passed before the Finns shocked the system, taking the lead thanks to Linda Sällstrom, who hit home after a fantastic long-ball from Anna Westerlund to send the sea of blue and white inside Stadium MK into pandemonium, which will surely go on to be one of the moments of the tournament.
Despite this early setback, the Spanish recovered well, with the likes of Mariona Caldentey and Esther González testing Tinja-Riika Korpela in the Finland goal.
A Spanish onslaught followed, including a disallowed Patri Guijarro effort, but they finally got their reward on 26 minutes thanks to Irene Parades, who powerfully headed home a Caldentey corner to get Spain back on track.
Despite some valiant play from Finland, the Spanish would take a deserved lead four minutes before the break courtesy of Aitana Bonmatí, who headed home a superb cross from Marìa León, running over to celebrate with the injured Alexia Putellas, providing a heartwarming moment for her team and fans.
This would prove to be the last major action of the half, with Spain well in the driving seat heading into the break.
The Spanish would continue to dominate from the start of the second-half, with Ona Batlle coming close early on, though her close-ranged effort produced a fine save from Korpela.
Some good moments from Finland followed in a largely quieter half, but this momentum would be halted on 75 minutes by Lucía García, who would put the game beyond doubt thanks to another well-hit León cross that once again produced a headed effort that sailed past Korpela.
Just as it all seemed over, Spain had a penalty that was calmly scored by Caldentey beyond added time, adding a wound to an otherwise better than expected Finnish performance.
Spain will be happy to start the tournament with three points, though they will think they should have won by much more, whilst Finland can be proud of this performance, having no doubt won the hearts of many neutral fans, and will go into their next game against Denmark full of confidence.
Spain: Paños; Batlle, Paredes, León, Ouahabi (Sheila García 61); Bonmatí (Del Castillo 79), Guijarro, Guerrero (Aleixandri 61); Lucía García (Pina 86), Esther González (Cardona 79), Caldentey
Finland: Korpela; Hyyrynen (Kuikka 66), Westerlund, Pikkujämsä, Koivisto; Engman (Sainio 46), Alanen, Summanen (Ahtinen 85), Öling (Rantanen 87); Sällström, Franssi (Danielsson 85)