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Esther scores in Spain’s 2-1 quarterfinal loss to England

Athenea del Castillo provided the assist

England v Spain: Quarter Final - UEFA Women’s EURO 2022
Esther González gave Spain the lead.
Photo by Steve Bardens - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

England have continued their rampant run at the UEFA Women’s EURO to book a place in the semifinals after a 2-1 win in extra time over Spain.

Jorge Vilda made changes to his starting lineup for the fourth successive game, with Madridistas Esther González, Olga Carmona, and Teresa Abelleira all coming into the starting XI, in addition to ex-Madridista Marta Cardona. What was more surprising was Vilda’s gamble to start Abelleira, who hadn’t played a single second in the group stage. England went with an unchanged lineup.

The game went as expected: Spain dominated possession, while England used their quick full-backs and wingers to create danger from turnovers and on the counter. The match had a lot of physicality to it as challenges flew from both sides. The intensity was there to be seen as well, as both teams tried to win the second balls with aggression and intensity. It was all chaotic, but fun to watch nonetheless.

The first half ended goalless. Both Spain and England had phases where they were the more dominating side, but Spain certainly created more danger. At half-time, Vilda introduced Athenea del Castillo for Marta Cardona. And the change worked.

In the 54th minute, del Castillo received the ball on the right, and with her first touch, she torched her marker, made her way into the box, and expertly picked out an unmarked Esther, who took one touch to control the ball before firing the ball into the far corner. It was a classic Spain goal.

Substitute Ella Toone scored the equaliser in the 84th after a scramble in the box, taking the game to extra time. Georgia Stanway put the Lionesses in the driver’s seat with a piledriver right into the top-left corner, in the 96th minute. Spain were relentless in their pressure and offense in the final stages of the game, but could simply not get the desired second goal.

Analyzing the performances of Real Madrid players in brief

Olga Carmona

Olga was rewarded with a place in the starting XI after her fantastic second-half showing against Denmark, coming in for Leila Ouahabi.

Spain’s #19 played the full 120 minutes, and was the most impressive of all Real Madrid players that appeared on the pitch. She kept Beth Mead quiet (and also Lauren Hemp whenever she would switch from left to right flank). As for her offensive contributions, she put in a lot of crosses: some were menacing, while others were ineffective. But her impact, much like last game, was visible in attack.

Teresa Abelleira

The central midfielder made her first appearance of the EUROs, being handed a start by Jorge Vilda. It was a gamble. Did the gamble work? The answer is yes. Although Teresa misplaced several passes in the first half, she was an important component while escaping England’s ultra-high press.

She didn’t do anything flashy - she barely does - but she had a decent performance considering this was her first appearance for La Roja at a major tournament. She could have done better, but she ticked most boxes in the 71 minutes she was on the pitch.

Esther González

After spending two games on the bench, Real Madrid’s revered striker was given the start in the crunch tie. And she repaid her coach’s trust by scoring a goal, which wouldn’t prove to be enough eventually.

She didn’t have many opportunities fall her way, but she made the most of the one chance that she got and put Spain ahead. As usual, Esther would drop deep and take part in the build-up, although it was less prevalent today than usual. She was tidy in possession, and was a pressing behemoth as she left her heart out on the pitch while trying to cut off passing lanes or force the goalkeeper/defenders into committing errors.

Athenea del Castillo

Brought on at half-time in place of Marta Cardona, del Castillo produced her best performance at the tournament. She played on the right wing, and gave nightmares to Rachel Daly (England left back). This cameo was reminiscent of her best displays at Real Madrid in the 2021-22 season.

In the lead-up to the goal, she evaded her marker with a gem of a first touch like Spider-Man evaded Green Goblin’s glider in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. She could have had a go at goal, given that she manufactured a lot of space for herself, but she made the wise call of cutting it back to Esther, who slotted the ball into the far corner.

Apart from the assist, she took on defenders in a much more dangerous and menacing way than she did against Denmark. English defenders found it extremely difficult to match her stride by stride. Athenea’s just too quick.

With that loss, that’s the last of action Real Madrid players will get involved in at the EUROs, unless the club announces the signing of French international Sandie Toletti before France bow out/the tournament ends.

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