Date: Saturday 8th June 2019
Venue: Stade Océane, Le Harve
The opening game for Spain comes up against South Africa in a game that Spain should win on ranking and on form. Spain start a strong line-up and a line up you would expect, a great game in prospect as Spain bring their tic tac football and South Africa bring their party celebration to try and spoil the opening game for Spain.
A bright and sunny afternoon after some terrible weather of the last few days will no doubt bring a great game that won’t be affected by the weather. Earlier in the day, Germany managed to get a 1-0 win over China in the group. You have to be excited by the prospect of Spain during this second World Cup.
Spain trying to put South Africa under pressure earlier passing it around the box as a beautiful ball is lofted into the box as Putellas breaks into the box but the keeper comes to the aid of the defence. A lot of great passing but can’t quite find the killer pass as they build pressure of the South African defence. Caldenety had space open up in front of her as she hit the shot and the keeper got down to get to the ball to push it away for a corner.
A late challenge on Putellas gives Spain a free kick in a dangerous position as Mapi Leon stands over the free kick, she strikes it really well as it just goes over the top of the bar.
South Africa counter attack Spain and give away a dangerous free kick the free-kick goes over the bar as Leon directs it up and over for a corner. The corner swung in as Paños punched the ball out as it encroached the goal.
Caldentey and Hermoso nearly combine once again but South Africa counter through pure speed as nothing comes of the cross though.
Mapi Leon moves the ball to Hermoso who chips it to Putellas and with some great skill but no end product. Spain pass it around the box but lose the ball as South Africa counter with speed and as Spain can’t deal with the ball, Kgatlana hits the ball as it goes over Paños outstretched arm in the Spain goal leaving her no chance with an inch-perfect chip, giving South Africa the shock lead after 25 minutes. 0-1 South Africa.
Corredera lifted a ball into Hermoso but she can’t find the finish as it gave her to much to do, South Africa look dangerous with pure speed on the counter-attack as Spain try to push forward. Losada gets the ball blasted in her face but the soldier she is she shakes it off gets up checks her lip and says let’s go.
A beautiful ball switched to Sampedro as the South African player brings her down, Losada stands over the ball on the free kick. She curls it into the box as it comes back to her the South African player steams straight into Losada as both players look in trouble on the ground. But thankfully both players make it back up to their feet.
Spain passing it around but as feared before the tournament finding that killer ball against a team that sets up defensively is seeming to be a real problem during the first 35 minutes. And as Spain overload the attack then gives South Africa the chance to get on the counter with pure pace.
Corredera puts a beautiful ball through to Calendenty but as she pulls it back the pass is wayward and South Africa deal with it and hit Spain on the counter again as they switch play but Spain win the ball back.
Hermoso tries to hold the ball up and gets clattered from behind as the South African player stands on her ankle. Losada stands over the free kick once again. She lifts the ball into the box and no one is alert to it as the ball pinballs around ending with Hermoso poking it back to the goalkeeper.
South Africa catch Spain again on the counter and as the ball comes into the box and nearly a chance to get to 0-2 but Spain get the ball away. Spain did not look at the races in the first 43 minutes of the game.
Another counter-attack by South Africa is defended by Mapi Leon as she clears the ball as Spain try to rebuild and attack again. Spain passed it around again so much that South Africa’s can get back to defend the attack as Spain are put on the back foot once again with a counter.
A mele at the end of the half as Hermoso whips the ball across no one can even get near it as it falls to Putellas a great tackle comes in. Marta hits a shot with the last kick of the game as nearly catches out the South African keeper as the ball hits the crossbar. The score at half time Spain 0-1 South Africa
Aitana Bonmatí and L.Garcia came on for Losada and Sampedro – Good change with Bonmatí coming on and Garcia hopefully can add some pace and speed up front.
Corredera puts the ball into the area as Spain get a free header as Torrejón gets the header in but straight at the goalkeeper when really should have made more of the attack. South Africa hit on the counter and somehow don’t score a second goal as Spain just about get the ball clear but South Africa start to create a bit of pressure after Spain make a mistake at the back.
Once again messing around at the back nearly costs Spain, Hermoso picks the ball back up on the halfway line and try’s to get the move going as Mapi Leon drives forward but wastes the ball but once again Spain come forward and win the corner. But off corner Hermoso loses it with a wasted pace. Bonmatí has been fantastic since she came on in the middle of the pitch trying to get Spain going. Hermoso has a long-range shot which is straight at her and about sums Spain up on the first hour of play.
Garcia works the ball well and as gets on break the South African defender does well to stop the attack, the following corner is won by Irene Paredes but is off target and doesn’t trouble the keeper. VAR check for a penalty for Spain that comes to nothing. I feel that Spain really could have done with that as well.
But this time a penalty is given for Spain as Van Wyn handles the ball in the area and gets a yellow card as it strikes her hand. Hermoso to step up and draw Spain level on the 70th minute as she slots the ball into the corner sending the keeper the wrong way bringing Spain back to 1-1 and now can they make it count in the final 20 minutes.
Spain gets into final third but end up back in own half which sees the ball fall behind L.Garcia who can’t make the break count as it looked like Spain could have made it count. Nahikari Garcia replaced Alexis Putellas on the 72nd minute.
A goal by Torrecilla as a lofted ball was put into the box but is given offside as she beats the keeper to it and heads it over the keeper which was just offside as it stays 1-1 in the 74th minute. South Africa bring down L.Garcis as she tries to go past seeing South Africa getting their third yellow card of the game.
South Africa look to be tiring as Spain really put some pressure on as Hermoso puts the ball across and Caldentey somehow can’t make the chance come to anything. Var review again for a Penalty for Spain, where the player followed through catching L.Garcia high on the leg, which should see a penalty and a red card, after two yellow cards, which it does result in. Spain are awarded their second penalty of the game and South Africa down to 10 players, Hermoso steps up to take it as she slots the ball home again as the keeper goes the right way but the keeper can’t get to it.
Spain get on the attack with a through ball as L.Garcia takes it around the keeper and slots the ball home into the net giving Spain the 3-1 lead and the great escape in the 89th minute.
Some incredible skill by Hermoso with a back heel goes through to L.Garcia who nearly scores Spain’s 4th as some great defending stops the ball going into the net. Spain just keep on the attack and keep the ball but again some flash stuff on the ball doesn’t lead to anything that goes goalwards. As Spain then pass it around to finish off the game and South Africa. A bad pass and tackle saw Corredera get yellow carded in the 94th minute.
The final whistle goes and Spain can count themselves really lucky with how that game went, have to give so much credit to South Africa but thankfully maybe a lack of defensive quality saw the 2 penalty’s, one that wasn’t given, an offside goal and a total Spain onslaught throughout the game. Hermoso got the two goals with L.Garcia getting the important third goal to kill off the game. Spain no top the group after game one but really need to improve when they face Germany next and finally China if they wish to get through.
The first time Spain tried to go straight through the middle the goal came in the 89th minute instead of trying to go back and go up the channels. Bonmatí for me changed the game so much in the middle and that hurts to say as she came on for Losada and that’s my Ronaldo or Messi but Bonmatí really changed it up and maybe should be starting next to Losada in the next game to help keep a midfield base. Jenni Hermoso was given the player of the match but in all honesty, was made to come back to deep and wasn’t able to be in the positions where she is deadly but came to save Spain with the two penalties.
Spain showed heart and didn’t give up as they kept knocking on the door but couldn’t quite get the breakthrough. To win it doesn’t matter if you win ugly as long as you win.
Spain: 13 Paños, 8 Torrejón, 4 Paredes, 16 León, 7 Corredera, 11 Putellas, 14 Torrecilla, 6 Losada, 19 Sampedro, 10 Hermoso, 9 Caldentey
China: 16 Dlamini, 2 Ramalepe, 5 van Wyk, 4 Matlou, 3 Vilakazi, 9 Mthand 19Biyana, 15Jane, 10 Motlhalo, 8Fulutudilu, 11 Kgatlana