Spain into last 16 of Women’s World Cup as Zambia crash out

Spain condemn Zambia to second 5-0 loss, setting up a decider against Japan for first place in Group C.

Jennifer Hermoso of Spain shoots at goal
Jennifer Hermoso, left, shoots at goal during Spain's 5-0 shutout of Zambia in their Women's World Cup Group C match at Eden Park on July 26, 2023, in Auckland, New Zealand [Buda Mendes/Getty Images]

Spain have underlined their credentials as pre-tournament favourites after becoming one of the first teams to seal qualification for the Women’s World Cup knockouts with a 5-0 win over Zambia in their second Group C encounter.

Teresa Abelleira opened the scoring on Wednesday while Jennifer Hermoso and Alba Redondo both scored twice to give Spain their second victory, which also assured Japan of last-16 qualification after they beat Costa Rica 2-0 earlier in the day.

With the lively Barbra Banda leading their attack, Zambia had the majority of the crowd of almost 21,000 behind them but struggled to create chances.

Abelleira settled any opening nerves with the fastest goal of the tournament when she picked up the ball after an intricate passing move in the ninth minute and fired a shot from long range that rocketed into the top corner.

Four minutes later, Hermoso marked her 100th appearance for Spain with an easy header at the far post after Zambia failed to defend a cross from Alexia Putellas.

Spain continued to dominate after half-time although Zambia goalkeeper Eunice Sakala made several saves. But she was left stranded when Redondo was put through on goal as the forward rounded the 21-year-old keeper to make it 3-0.

Hermoso then grabbed her second – and 50th for Spain – when she pounced on a rebound off the post to fire home, a goal awarded after some confusion over the referee’s initial announcement that it was ruled out for offside.

Redondo then beat the offside trap late in the game to score Spain’s fifth, also awarded after a VAR review after the assistant referee flagged offside.

Both Spain and Japan have six points and will play each other on Monday for the top spot in the group.

However, Spain’s margin of victory means they now have a better goal difference and so just need a draw to finish in first place when the sides clash in Wellington.

Zambia are already condemned to a first-round exit in their debut appearance at the World Cup after a second successive 5-0 hammering.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies