FIFA Women's World Cup
Spain wins its first Women's World Cup, England's drought continues
FIFA Women's World Cup

Spain wins its first Women's World Cup, England's drought continues

Updated Aug. 20, 2023 11:21 p.m. ET

Spain stands alone.

Olga Carmona scored the eventual game-winning goal for La Roja in the first half Sunday as Spain — despite being denied on a second-half penalty kick — beat England, 1-0, at Stadium Australia in Sydney to win the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.

It's the first title for Spain's women's team, which had won just a single World Cup game in its history before this summer's tournament in Australia and New Zealand. The Spain men hoisted the trophy in 2010, making Spain only the second country to win both the men's and women's titles, joining Germany. 


Here are quick takeaways from Sunday's match:

Play of the game

Carmona's strike was worthy of a championship decider. That it was a total team goal was fitting for a side built on passing and taking advantage of possession.

The pivotal sequence began when England right back Lucy Bronze was dispossessed in the midfield after running into a sea of red shirts. Teresa Abelleira controlled and quickly sent a diagonal cross to Mariona Caldentey, who dished to overlapping left back Carmona. 

With Bronze out of position, Carmona found space behind England central defender Jess Carter and made fast use of it, hitting a first-time shot with her left foot just past the outstretched hand of Lionesses keeper Mary Earps and into the bottom corner of the net:

Spain's Olga Carmona scores the game's only goal

The goal left England chasing the game. It also settled down Spain, which was able to control the contest for most of the rest of the way despite Earps's save on Jennifer Hermoso's spot kick just before the hour mark.

[What is 'MERCHI'? Explaining Olga Carmona's World Cup final celebration]

Turning point

Energized after Earps' stop, England had plenty of time left to find the equalizer. The Lionesses might have gotten it if not for the other keeper, La Roja backstop Cata Coll.

Coll had to make just three saves in all. But they were all crucial, and none of them was better than her fingertip stop on second half sub Lauren James that kept England off the score board not long after Hermoso's miss:

Key stat

Spain was fully expected to have the ball for most of the game. Yet few could've guessed Jorge Vilda's team would dominate possession to such an overwhelming extent — almost 60-40 by the time the game was done.

That England was utterly unable to keep the ball for any sustained length of time, despite trailing for more than an hour, was remarkable. And it was the biggest reason the Lionesses lost in the end.

What's next for Spain?

This is Spain's first major trophy on the senior women's side. It most certainly won't be its last. 

La Roja proved this month that they will be a force at the highest level for many years to come. That alone is an achievement for a team that didn't even qualify for its first World Cup until 2015.

Still, the signs that Spain was a sleeping giant have been there for a while. La Roja's under-20 national team claimed the U-20 World Cup last year. The U-19s took home two of the last three Euros and finished third in the other. In France in 2019, the senior squad came closer than any other to upsetting the champion United States in the knockout stage.

Now the Spaniards are the world champions. That they become one without 12 former regulars who stayed home amid a dispute with Vilda and the Spanish federation speaks not only to the depth of talent the program has now but will continue to draw from. Whether Vilda remains in charge remains to be seen. La Roja, on the other hand, are here to stay.

Spain celebrates after winning the 2023 Women's World Cup

What's next for England?

Sunday's loss is a devastating one for a nation that was playing in its first World Cup final, women's or men's, since 1966. 

Spain vs. England highlights from 2023 World Cup Final

It appeared the stars were aligning for the European champs, which had gotten better in every game as the competition wore on. This defeat will take a long time to get over for the Lionesses.

Like Spain, though, England established its bona fides at this World Cup. After being eliminated in the semis four years ago and in 2015, this was its most successful run yet. 

The last two summers — the Lionesses won the Euros on home soil in 2022 — have made the women's national team a beloved entity in the country, one that will continue to have a better chance of lifting trophies than its men's squad in the near term. 

The future is beyond bright for the women's game in England. The Lionesses might not have won the World Cup this year, but it's probably just a matter of time until they do.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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