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Alexia Putellas drops a golazo on Panama during Spain's 7-0 demolition

It's been almost a year since two-time Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas went down with an ACL injury that cost her a place at last summer's European Championship and almost the entire 2022-23 club season with Barcelona.  

Her last appearance for Spain was actually July 2, 2022, when she received her 100th cap and scored her 27th goal in a friendly against Italy.

Now, after a long and demanding road to recovery, Putellas made her long-awaited return to the national team Thursday during a friendly against fellow World Cup participants Panama. 

This'll be a first World Cup appearance for las Canaleras whereas la Roja travel to Australia and New Zealand as one of the favorites, and the gap between the sides was evident at Estadio Román Suárez Puerta in Avilés. 

Esther González opened the scoring for Spain in the seventh-minute, and then Putellas gave the 3,611 in attendance exactly what they wanted with a golazo on her return.    

Perhaps even more importantly for Spain is that Putellas lasted 62 minutes before making way for Claudia Zornoza. Although she returned to action for Barça at the end of the season, Putellas never appeared for more than 30 minutes off the bench. 

Irene Guerrero had a goal and two assists for Spain while González scored a brace. There's been controversy at goalkeeper after Barcelona's Sandra Paños was omitted from the squad, but her replacement, Real Madrid's Misa Rodríguez, didn't have to make a save.

Spain faces a more difficult warmup on July 5 with a trip to Copenhagen to play Denmark, then they'll jet off to New Zealand for one final friendly against Vietnam before opening their World Cup campaign against Costa Rica on July 21.

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