A day that didn’t begin well for the Spain women’s soccer team ended with the country’s first victory in the Women’s World Cup.
Trailing 1-0 with the 70th minute approaching, Spain avoided the upset with the help of two penalty kicks and rallied for a 3-1 win against South Africa on Saturday in Group B action in Le Havre, France.
After going winless in three matches in its World Cup debut in 2015, Spain now owns a World Cup record of 1-2-1.
It looked like South Africa was on its way to a shocking upset of Spain, with South Africa making its first appearance in the World Cup this year and entering the tournament ranked No. 49 in the world.
Meanwhile, Spain entered with some hype after going 8-0 in qualifying and climbing to No. 13 in the world rankings.
But after South Africa took advantage of a counterattack with a well-placed shot from just outside the box from forward Thembi Kgatlana in the 25th minute to open the scoring, penalty kicks helped Spain avoid the disappointing result.
Spain tied the score after South Africa captain Janine van Wyk was called for a handball inside the box. Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso made South Africa pay by knocking in the penalty kick in the 69th minute.
Then Hermoso converted on another penalty kick in the 82nd minute to give Spain the 2-1 edge after Nothando Vilakazi drew her second yellow card of the match for a tackle in the box.
Next up for Spain is a match against Germany, which is ranked No. 2 in the world, on Wednesday at noon EST in its second match of the group stage. Germany defeated China 1-0 on Saturday to begin its tournament run.