Frustated to the last Spain failed to find a way around a stubborn Belgium team, even from the spot La Roja couldn't produce a suitable moment of magic, the Red Flames well deserving of their hard-earned point.
A scrappy match that did little to show off Spain’s best form, La Roja held the upper hand in the match but failed to pose many hard questions to a much-changed Belgium team. The best chance fell to Mari Paz whose rocket was sent spinning into the air by Justien Odeurs before her defence cleared it off of the line when it crashed down to earth.
The shot was immediately followed by a rising effort from Barbara Latorre before Ivana saw her own effort headed high into the air by the overrun defence. Even temporarily down to ten with Davinia Vanmechelen off of the pitch injured, Spain couldn’t make their extra body count and came up empty handed at yet another first half corner.
There was a predictable pattern to the first half; Spain attacked and Belgium defended, the Red Flames ventured forward but struggled to keep possession, the rush of blood coming with each attack making for a quick end.
Spain attacked again and Belgium defended. Far from the free-flowing football that has been seen from Jorge Vilda’s team, the match was stilted, the team admittedly injury hit but their usual stylish flow was absent. Frustration growing for Spain as half time was called.
The fifteen-minute break did little to lift the Spaniards, a double switch offering more of the same as those in red looked for fluidity, Belgium persevering in defence and getting forward more and more. The most stylish move of the match didn’t come until after the hour and another double-change for Spain, a back heel from Mari Paz enough to set up Patri. Fresh legs and fresh eyes picking out Lucía García on the overlap, a strong save from Odeurs required to keep La Roja out.
A loose foul by Maud Coutereels on García in the box gave Spain the chance they’d been desperate for as the substitute was eased over and left on the deck. A natural goalscorer in fine form for her club, Paz was the most obvious choice, the number nine disappointing from 12-yards, her penalty expertly read by Odeurs and well held. The penalty was met with an immediate counter, the Red Flames on the charge once more but again, neither team who strike a meaningful blow, no matter how many bodies got forward.
Another chance came and went for Spain, Paz’ acrobatic effort very nearly a goal of the tournament, Odeurs’ fingertips enough to tip it onto the bar and deny the 30-year-old. The changes flowed, both benches called upon, just as the chances came and went, Andera Pereira’s the next in a long line. The defender’s header at the back post batted against the bar by Odeurs for anther corner and a subsequent goal kick.
The match rolled towards its death, the likelihood of a winner growing slimmer by the second, Belgium still there with Spain every step of the way, ensuring they didn’t find a breakthrough.