MILTON KEYNES (Reuters) -Favourites Spain made a winning start to their Women’s European Championship campaign after they came from behind to beat Finland 4-1 in Milton Keynes on Friday.
Linda Sallstrom gave Finland a surprise lead in the first minute but Spain bounced back with headers from captain Irene Paredes, midfielder Aitana Bonmati and forward Lucia Garcia.
Mariona Caldentey rounded off the scoring with a penalty for Spain, who are playing without their all-time top scorer Jennifer Hermoso and Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who were both injured before the tournament.
“They scored a goal inside the first minute of the game that nobody expected, we are not used to it,” player of the match Bonmati told a news conference.
“The good thing today is that we were able to get back in the game after the week we had been having, which has not been easy mentally. That’s how a great team is made, in such moments.
“Today we showed a little bit of who we are and what we came here for. This is a turning point and I think it will give us a lot of confidence.”
Underdogs Finland took early control of the Group B encounter when forward Sallstrom hit a low shot into the bottom left corner following a superb pass from defender Anna Westerlund.
But Spain, soon overcame the early jitters and found the equaliser in the 26th minute when the unmarked Paredes scored a towering header from Caldentey’s corner.
Jorge Vilda’s team took the lead in the 41st minute after Mapi Leon swept in a brilliant cross from the left and Bonmati headed the ball into the top corner.
Garcia then headed in from Leon’s free kick in the 75th minute to make it 3-1 before Caldentey scored with a stoppage-time penalty.
Caldentey found the top corner from the spot in the 95th minute after Elli Pikkujamsa brought down Marta Cardona in the box.
The victory put Spain top of Group B, which also includes Denmark and Germany. Jorge Vilda’s side will next face Germany at Brentford on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Anita Kobylinska in Gdansk;Editing by Toby Davis)