Photo Credit: Maja Hitij – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
2011 champions Japan have crushed 6th ranked Spain 4-0 in Wellington to clinch top spot in Group C at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup™.
The Japanese were clinical in front of goal and three first half strikes – two Hinata Miyazawa goals either side of Riko Ueki’s effort – put the result beyond doubt inside 45 minutes. Mina Tanaka added a sublime fourth with 8 minutes of regular time remaining.
The Spaniards enjoyed plenty of possession but were toothless in attack, struggling to seriously test Japanese goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita. Japan will face Group A runners up Norway in the Round of 16 in Wellington on Saturday night while Spain must regroup to take on Group A winners Switzerland at Eden Park earlier the same day.
Japan: 4 (Hinata MIYAZAWA 12′, 40′, Riko UEKI 29′, Mina TANAKA 82′)
Elsewhere in Group C, Zambia scored their first goals of the tournament in a solid 3-1 victory over Costa Rica in Hamilton.
Two first-half goals gave the Africans a platform to establish their dominance, with Lushomo Mweemba opening the scoring after just 3 minutes before Barbra Banda converted a penalty after half an hour.
Melissa Herrera gave Costa Rica hope, pulling a goal back within minutes of the restart but any chance of a comeback was ended when Racheal Kundananji added a third for Zambia deep in stoppage time.
Costa Rica: 1 (Melissa HERRERA 47′)
Zambia: 3 (Lushomo MWEEMBA 3′, Barbra BANDA PEN 31′, Racheal KUNDANANJI 90+3′)
Co-hosts Australia ensured their World Cup dream continued with an impressive 4-0 victory over Canada in Melbourne.
Knowing that anything other than a win would likely lead to their exit at the group stages, the Matildas began strongly against the seventh-ranked Canadians.
Hayley Raso opened the scoring in the 9th minute – confirmed after a lengthy VAR check for a possible offside – before Mary Fowler appeared to have added a second in the 34th minute, only for VAR to this time reverse the decision, deeming Ellie Carpenter to have been in an offside position.
Only minutes later a legitimate second goal came, again from the boot of Raso after a scramble in the penalty area following a corner kick.
Fowler wasn’t to be denied in the second half however as she scuffed home the Australians third to take advantage of an outstanding run down the left-hand side by team mate Caitlin Foord. The fourth came late on from the left-boot of Steph Catley via the penalty spot.
Olympic champions Canada will be bitterly disappointed not to have made it out of the group phase, with much expected of this group of players pre-tournament.
With Nigeria failing to beat Ireland in the other Group B match, Australia have clinched top spot in the section and will face the side finishing second in Group D in the Round of 16 in Sydney.
Australia: 3 (Hayley RASO 9′, 39′, Mary FOWLER 58′, Steph CATLEY PEN 90+4′)
Republic of Ireland earned their maiden FIFA Women’s World Cup point with a 0-0 draw against Nigeria in Brisbane.
The Irish, having narrowly lost their opening two matches – both by a single goal – had the majority of the possession against a Nigeria side keen to build on their surprise victory over Australia.
Despite their dominance however, the tournament debutants struggled to create much in the way of chances, with few attempts on target throughout the 90 minutes. Nigeria enjoyed more efforts but found it difficult to find a way past Irish ‘keeper Courtney Brosnan.
For the Super Falcons, they can now look forward to a Round of 16 tie against the winner of Group D, to decided on Tuesday evening.
Republic of Ireland: 0