Alexia Putellas’ disputed second half header was doubled at the very death by a close range strike from Mari Paz as Spain and the Netherlands clashed in La Manga.
Spain fired up
With rather different fates last time out, Spain picked up where they left off against Austria in Palma, La Roja seeing all of the ball during the opening exchanges. Mapi Leon’s free kick got the visitors working before Alexia Putellas drew a save from Sari van Veenendaal with her own direct effort from a dead ball. Still struggling to get out, the Dutch rode their luck when Olga García swept her low shot against the inside of the post leaving the ball to bounce across the face of goal, van Veenendaal in the way of her snappy rebound.
A rare foray forward saw the visitors draw out a chance, those in blue fast crowded out after Lieke Martens had seen her initial cross deflected away with her teammates too scattered in the attacking third. The ball fast turned over and returned to the half as the hosts flew forward, probing for the opening goal.
A lapse saw Putellas and Jenni Hermoso combine in the box, the PSG woman’s lay-off to Patri Guijarro intercepted at the last second by a sliding Danielle van de Donk, the resulting corner fumbled by claimed by the Dutch number one. The game settled towards the half hour mark, Spain still the team in the ascension though their chances were further and far between, the Dutch settled into more of a defensive shape as the urgency left the hosts.
A couple of sighters for the visitors should have stirred La Roja into action but the spark had left their game, a poor touch from Vivianne Miedema contributing to the deadlock more than the save from Lola Gallardo that drew a cheer from the crowd. Spain reset and looked to cause more problems in the Dutch box but still they lacked the fire they’d started the game with, a Marta Torrejón recycled ball their best chance of the waning half.
Little joy after the break
The second half flowed with the same dulled rhythm as the first ended, Spain the team offering more but neither team seemed likely to score or even ask questions of the goalkeepers. A ball over the top something for Renate Jansen to chase as Sandra Paños charged out of her goal and cleared the danger before Guijarro tried her hand from range for the hosts.
With the game growing stale and Spain already three changes in, the visitors looked to the bench for inspiration, a triple change ordered on the hour. The fresh legs looked to have an immediate effect, a streaking run from Martens capped off as Lineth Beerensteyn fired the ball at goal as Paños made a big save to deny the substitute. Though the deadlock was soon broken, Putellas’ header at a corner adjudged to have crossed as it bounced off of the post and into van Veenendaal’s gloves.
The game opened up after the goal but that crucial touch of finish and polish was lacking for both sides.
After both teams had made their final change, Putellas saw another chance go begging, her ball out of feet enough to beat both van Veenendaal and the bar, the ball picking up pace as it slipped just over. The game stretched in the last ten minutes, the Spanish determined to finish on a high, Hermoso’s lashed effort stinging van Veenendaal’s gloves as the Arsenal number one palmed her shot over. Vicky Losada’s effort at the resulting corner another to crest over the bar, the ball whisked off of Maria Alharilla’s toe by van Veenendaal at the next attack.
The visitors saw another half chance or two before the whilst was finally blown for full time, La Roja finishing the game as they had started it, asking nothing but questions.The last kick of the game enough to see the Spanish double their advantage as Putellas took advantage of a slip from Merel van Dongen. The Barca woman smart enough to pull the ball from the near post to the far for Mari Paz to slot home.