Alexia Putellas may have come into UEFA Women's EURO 2013 with just one Spain cap to her name, but having won two UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship titles, she knows all about tournament football and has already made an impact.
The 19-year-old was brought off the bench 17 minutes from the end of Spain's Group C opener against England last Friday and deep in added time she opened her international account with a dramatic winner. A substitute again as Spain lost 1-0 to France on Monday, Putellas and her team-mates still only need a point when they face Russia in Norrkoping on Thursday, but the FC Barcelona midfielder is going for victory.
"We will approach the game with the intention of taking all three points," she told UEFA.com. "We won't be looking for a draw. We want second place and don't wish to play for the possibility of being one of the best third-place finishers."
That might mean another dramatic intervention like her contribution against England. "Not even in my dreams [did I imagine such a feat]," she said. "A first senior UEFA Women's EURO appearance, after Spain had waited 16 years to compete at the finals, coming on with 20 minutes to go and scoring the third goal – I have no words to describe how that felt."
As for the France game, where she was introduced for the last 12 minutes, Putellas added: "From the off, we knew it was going to be difficult playing them and that we would have to take advantage of the chances that came our way. France are quite a similar team to us in that they like to have possession and when they don't have it is when they suffer.
"Despite that, as one of the best sides in the world, they have other strengths too like pace and defensive conviction. We have to be realistic, they are a superior team – but I feel if we had to play them again we would stand up to them."
Spain could meet France again in the semis but first they require a result against Russia to get to the last eight. "Russia are very united and strong," Putellas continued. "Perhaps they are not packed with quality, but they have good players and are good in certain areas. I imagine that their intention will be the same as ours, to go through to the quarter-finals giving everything that they have."
About to begin a business studies degree at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Putellas is also savouring the experience of being at the finals: "Just being here in Sweden is a prize in itself; it's like payback for all the hard work I have been putting in up until now. We want the whole world to look proudly on this team."
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