Spain overturned a first-minute deficit to secure a comfortable victory over defiant minnows Finland at Stadium MK in Milton Keynes on Friday night.
Headed efforts from Irene Paredes, Aitana Bonmati and Lucia Garcia and Mariona Caldentey’s penalty eventually gave La Roja all three points in Group B after Linda Sallstrom had given them a scare inside a minute of kick off.
Finland set the cat among the pigeons just 49 seconds into the game as Sallstrom ran beyond the Spain backline from Anna Westerlund’s long pass to shoot past Sandra Panos for the opener.
Spain soon settled into their rhythm, dictating possession and territory with Finland reduced to brief attacks on the counter attack where they still looked dangerous.
A disallowed header from Patricia Guijarro frustrated La Roja but they eventually drew level midway through the first half when Paredes powered a header in from Caldentey’s corner.
The chances of a major shock victory for Finland grew slimmer when they went behind just before half time.
A beautifully guided header from Bonmati from Mapi Leon’s cross floated into the top corner to make it 2-1 and complete the turnaround after the surprise opener.
Finland made a decent start to the second half and had Westerlund shoot straight at Panos before Spain’s Batlle embarked on a terrific solo run, running into open space before having her effort pushed away by Korpela.
The Tottenham goalkeeper then produced another terrific stop, denying substitute Laia Aleixandri a headed effort by turning the ball around the post.
However, La Roja eventually saw off their stubborn opposition with a third goal.
Leon again was the provider, sending a dangerous free kick into Finland’s box for Garcia to nod in and secure all three points.
Some gloss was added to the scoreline in second half injury time as Caldentey sent an accurate penalty into the top corner after substitute Marta Cardona had been brought down.
Spain are next in action when they face Germany – another of the tournament favourites – on Tuesday, while Finland take on Denmark in Group B’s other clash.
GK: Sandra Panos – 6/10 – Got a slight touch on Sallstrom’s shot but couldn’t keep it out. Little to do for the other 89 minutes.
RB: Ona Batlle – 7/10 – The Manchester United full-back was tenacious in the tackle and always available when Spain utilised their overlaps. So nearly scored a brilliant solo goal but was denied by Korpela.
CB: Irene Parades – 7/10 – Attacked Caldentey’s corner perfectly to haul her side level. Booked for stopping a Finland counter.
CB: Mapi Leon – 8/10 – Positioning was too wide when Westerlund split the Spain defence open. Redeemed herself with her brilliant crossing throughout the game, especially for Bonmati to make it 2-1.
LB: Leila Ouahabi – 7/10 – Clipped the top of the bar with a dangerous cross. Like Batlle, was available out wide before her withdrawal.
CM: Aitana Bonmati – 8/10 – Got into the box and was unmarked to convert Leon’s cross with a gorgeous header into the top corner. Good distribution with the ball.
CM: Patricia Guijarro – 7/10 – Had the ball in the back of the net but saw it disallowed for offside. Enforced well in the middle of the park with a number of strong challenges.
CM: Irene Guerrero – 6/10 – Bore some of the responsibility by replacing the injury struck Alexia Putellas, but her midfield colleagues were more impressive. Had a tame shot saved by Korpela.
RW: Lucia Garcia – 7/10 – Not afraid to get her shots away but struggled in the attacking third when trying to link up with Gonzalez. Secured the game for Spain when she nodded in Leon’s cross.
ST: Esther Gonzalez – 5/10 – A few bad touches here, some off target shots there for Gonzalez in a tough opening game.
LW: Mariona Caldentey – 8/10 – Had Spain’s first eye of goal, shooting start at Korpela from 25 yards. Inch-perfect delivery to set up Paredes, was her side’s most electric attacker and got her reward with a goal from a penalty late on.
SUB: Laia Aleixandri – 6/10
SUB: Sheila – 6/10
SUB: Athenea del Castillo – N/A
SUB: Marta Cardona – N/A – Won the penalty at the death.
SUB: Claudia Pina – N/A
GK: Riikka Korpela – 7/10 – Was in between her line and the crowd of players at the corner where Paredes grabbed the equaliser. Did well to keep out a few goal-bound shots.
RB: Tuija Hyyrynen – 6/10 – Had the tough task of dealing with an on-fire Caldentey, but made a few crucial blocks and interventions.
CB: Anna Westerlund – 7/10 – Terrific ball through the middle sent Sallstrom in on goal. A good sliding challenge minutes later denied Bonmati and put in some dangerous set-pieces.
CB: Elli Pikkujamsa – 6/10 – Stood firm at the back alongside Westerlund as Spain piled on the pressure.
LB: Emma Koivisto – 5/10 – Made some good recoveries up against the all-action Garcia
RM: Adelina Engman – 5/10 – Had 12 touches of the ball in the first half and was dispossessed twice. Brought off at half time due to an injury.
CM: Eveliina Summanen – 6/10 – Had a good chance at the start of the second half, but could only prod a weak effort at Panos when unmarked.
CM: Emmi Alanen – 6/10 – Worked really hard in midfield but the gap in quality between Spain’s midfield and Finland eventually told.
LM: Ria Oling – 7/10 – Was dangerous during Finland’s excellent start, setting up chances and winning the ball back high up the pitch.
ST: Linda Sallstrom – 7/10 – Kept her cool in the first minute to crack the opener in off the post. Had a few other half chances but nothing quite as glaring as her goal.
ST: Sanni Franssi – 5/10 – Just had very little to work with, especially as the game wore on and Finland’s press tired.
SUB: Essi Sainio – 5/10
SUB: Natalia Kuikka – 5/10
SUB: Olga Ahtinen – N/A
SUB: Jenny Danielsson – N/A
SUB: Amanda Rantanen – N/A