Pontevedra, Dec 2 (IANS): The Spanish women's football team assured their place in the final four of the UEFA Nations League and are a win away from booking their place at next summer's Olympic Games despite a surprise 3-2 defeat to Italy on Friday night.
The recently crowned world champions had their place in the semi-final of the Nations League assured in the 25th minute of the game, when news of Switzerland's 1-0 win over Sweden came through to confirm their qualification for the last-four of the Nations League, where a win would take them to Paris next summer.
Spain dominated the first half of the match and opened the scoring in the 11th minute when Athenea del Castillo found space on the right of the Italian penalty area, worked space and rifled in a powerful shot at the near post.
The Spanish controlled the first half on a pitch in the city of Pontevedra, but despite spending most of the time camped in the Italian half, they didn't create many clear chances.
Valentina Giacinti made Spain pay in the first minute of the second half, and Manuela Giugliano put Italy ahead in the 57th minute. Elena Linari made it 3-1 with a header from a corner just seven minutes later.
The Spanish were stunned, but never let their heads drop and with the mist descending over the ground, Esther Gonzalez pulled one goal back for Spain.