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Women’s World Cup: Japan prove title credentials with stunning win over Spain

Japan issued a warning to fellow 2023 Women’s World Cup rivals with an overwhelming 4-0 win over Spain in Monday’s Group C top-table six-pointer.

An outstanding first-half showing from Futoshi Ikeda’s team laid the groundwork for an emphatic victory, with the Asians taking a comprehensive 3-0 lead at half-time.

Despite taking the field as pre-match underdogs, Japan upset the odds to finish their impressive group-stage journey with all three wins and a +11 goal difference, not to mention they’ve yet to concede a goal.

Complacency might have caught up with Spain, knowing they had knockout qualification wrapped up ahead of this fixture, but there’s no excuse for such a toothless performance.

In a Group C dead rubber, Zambia demolished Costa Rica 3-1 in their maiden victory at the Women’s World Cup, condemning the CONCACAF underachievers to a pointless finish.

With nothing but pride left to play for on the final matchday, Bruce Mwape’s side freed themselves from the shackles of a back-to-back losing start to make history on the back of a 2-0 half-time lead.

This convincing triumph came too little too late from Zambia.

The ‘Copper Queens’ had to for a third-place finish in their first-ever appearance in the tournament, though this success could set an example for future generations.

Like Zambia, Las Ticas’ Women’s World Cup campaign ended before the kick-off after a brace of defeats to Japan and Spain by an aggregate score of 5-0 left them nailed to the bottom of the standings.

Elsewhere, Women’s World Cup co-hosts Australia humbled Olympic gold medalists Canada 4-0 at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium to secure a knockout berth as Group B winners.

Real Madrid star Hayley Raso stole the show in Melbourne as his unanswered first-half brace inspired Matildas to a memorable success while denying Canada a place in the round of 16.

Bev Priestman’s ladies came into the tournament with high expectations.

However, a dismal return of one win from three group matches, accompanied by only two goals, sent them packing earlier than anticipated.

Nigeria, who held Ireland to a goalless stalemate in the other Group B match-up, pipped Canada to a runner-up finish despite drawing two of their three group outings.

An action-packed 3-2 win over Australia in round two proved enough to propel ‘Super Falcons’ into the knockout stages for the second tournament running.

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