World Cup 2023 - Japan, Spain storm into knockout phase on Match Day 7
Japan and Spain have stormed past their Group C opponents to become the first teams qualify for the knockout phase of the FIFA Women's World Cup while Canada survived an Irish scare in Perth.
Two first-half goals in three minutes was enough for Japan to record a comfortable 2-0 victory against Central American nation, Costa Rica and see themselves into the Round of 16. Costa Rica had no answers at either end of the park as the 11th ranked Japan ran riot dominating the shot-count and possession.
Hikaro Naomoto opened the scoring on 24 minutes when Costa Rica full-back Maria Coto failed to cut out a diagonal pass to the Japanese atatcker, who drilled it past goalkeeper Daniela Solera.
Just minutes later, Aoba Fujino chased what looked to be a hopeless cause before a turn of speed caught her marker napping as she ripped a second past Solera. The win sees Japan march on to the knock-outs while for Costa Rica their final match will be all about pride. In the later fixture, Spain continued to impress as they thrashed Zambia 5-nil in Auckland. It was a roaring start for Spain where a 9th minute strike will see Teresa Abelleira involved in the Goal of the Tournament conversation. A move down the left managing the stretch the Zambian defence before the ball made its way to Teresa at the top of the box where she pummelled it into the top-left corner past a helpless Zambian keeper.
It would be the easiest of finishes just minutes later when Alexia Putellas caught the Zambian defence napping as she found the head of Jennifer Hermoso at the back post who headed the ball home from just a metre out. A 2-nil lead at half time and Spain wasn't stopping there, adding another three in the second half to throw down a challenge to their rivals. In the evening fixture, Canada survived an early scare to beat the Republic of Ireland 2-1 in front of 17,000 fans in Perth. An early stunner as Ireland's Katie McCabe scored directly from the corner before Canada wrestled back the momentum with Adriana Leon scoring a 53rd minute winner. The win means Canada's campaign stays alive while Ireland will exit in the group stage.
Match Day 8
Match Day 8 will kick-off with world number one, United States taking on Euro-power Netherlands in Wellington, a win for either side will be enough to progress. In the afternoon fixture, Portugal will face Vietnam in Hamilton with both teams chasing a win to avoid their early exit. The evening fixture will see Australia take on Nigeria in front of fifty thousand at Lange Park in Brisbane however injury concerns have shadowed the Matilda's preparation for the match. A win for the Matildas will see them progress to the Round of 16. Kick-off at 6pm in Western Australia.