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Women’s World Cup: Spain & Japan secure knockout berths, Canada back on track

Spain’s flawless start to the 2023 Women’s World Cup campaign continued as they hammered Zambia 5-0 to seal knockout qualification on Wednesday.

Similar to their scintillating 3-0 romping of Costa Rica in their Group C opener, Jorge Vilda’s ladies made a flying start, going 2-0 up within the opening 12 minutes.

But while all three goals in their day-one triumph over North American rivals came before half-time, La Roja transferred their momentum into the second half, adding three more goals to the tally.

Jennifer Hermoso, who squandered a penalty against Costa Rica, redeemed herself with a match-winning performance, scoring on either side of half-time to inspire her side to another thumping victory.

With a perfect two-game record and a +8 goal difference, the Spaniards go into the group-stage finale looking down on the rest, although a top-place finish isn’t a foregone conclusion yet.

Japan can still leapfrog Spain when the two sides lock horns in a top-table Group C six-pointer next Monday after easing past Costa Rica 2-0 in the other day-two fixture in this section.

Futoshi Ikeda’s high-flying side came flying out of the traps at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, netting an unanswered brace before the half-hour mark to maintain their 100% win ratio in the tournament.

Like Spain, Japan humbled group minnows Zambia 5-0 on the opening matchday, but a slightly less convincing triumph over Costa Rica sees them head into the final round as runners-up.

While Japan and Spain locked down places in the knockout stage with a game to spare, Canada’s bid to join them has received a massive boost after an early upset.

Bev Priestman’s captain Christine Sinclair couldn’t convert a penalty in a dismal goalless draw against Nigeria last time out, but the Canucks bounced back with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Ireland.

Despite falling behind only four minutes into the match, Canada eked out a precious win at Perth’s HBF Park.

Megan Connolly’s own goal on the stroke of half-time set the tone for the North Americans’ comeback before Adriana Leon completed the turnaround at the start of the second half to propel Canada to the top of Group B.

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