WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Japan scored three times from lightning breaks in the first half, once in the second and defended resolutely to trounce Spain 4-0 on Monday and top Group C at the Women’s World Cup.
Debutants Zambia claimed their first ever victory with a 3-1 win over Costa Rica at Waikato Stadium also on Monday, although both teams were already out of contention for the knockout stage.
Zambia, whose first two games ended in 5-0 hammerings, finished third in Group C, with Japan top after their 4-0 thrashing of Spain. Costa Rica finished bottom and did not pick up a point in their three matches.
Zambia’s defender Lushomo Mweemba scored the fastest goal of the tournament so far, with a spectacular volleyed effort at two minutes and 11 seconds, and captain Barbra Banda doubled the lead from the penalty spot just after the half-hour mark.
Hinata Miyazawa scored twice, Riko Ueki scored once and both were instrumental in each other’s goals as Japan switched swiftly from defense to counter-attack and scored from its only three attempts on goal before halftime.
Mina Tanaka came off the bench to score the last in the 82nd minute as Japan, with only 22% of possession, turned on a counter-attacking master class.
Japan played with a strong and cold wind at its back in the first half and that added carry to long balls forward which helped catch the Spain defense in retreat.
Spain had an overwhelming majority of possession in the half; by the 25 minute mark it had enjoyed 68% and had more than 230 completed passes to Japan’s 43. But it was timid, reluctant to go forward and played mostly around the middle of the field, keeping the ball on the ground in the face of the wind .
Japan was content to defend in the depth and to wait for the moment to unleash its counter-attack. It sprang the trap for the first time in the 12th; from just inside the Spain half and wide on the left Jun Endo sent a long, curling ball forward which fell into the path of Miyakawa, who neatly slipped her shot past Misa Rodriguez in the Spanish goal.
Colombia stuns Germany
Manuela Vanegas scored in second-half stoppage time to lift Colombia to a 2-1 upset victory over Germany in a Group H clash.
Linda Caicedo returned from collapsing in training on Thursday to score a goal in the 52nd minute for Colombia (2-0-0), which hosts Morocco (1-1-0) on Thursday in Perth, Australia.
Alexandra Popp followed up her brace in Germany’s 6-0 romp over Morocco by converting a penalty in the 89th minute.
Merle Frohms made two saves for the Germans (1-1-0), who host winless South Korea (0-2-0) on Thursday in Brisbane, Australia.
Colombia will advance to the knockout round with a draw over Morocco (1-1-0) in their final Group H match. The Germans are likely to advance with a win over South Korea.
Norway reaches knockout stage
Sophie Roman Haug´s hat trick kick-started Norway´s dormant offense and sparked a 6-0 blowout win over the Philippines that moved the Norwegians into to the knockout stage.
The Philippines´ debut run in the tournament came to an end as Norway scored early and often, netting three goals in the first 31 minutes.
Norway´s spot in the round of 16 was secured when Switzerland and New Zealand simultaneously played to a 0-0 draw and the Norwegians.
Co-host New Zealand eliminated
New Zealand can be proud of their Women’s World Cup campaign on home soil despite their group-stage exit, coach Jitka Klimkova said after a goalless draw with Switzerland ended their hopes of reaching the knockout rounds.
Co-hosting the tournament with Australia, New Zealand had never won a World Cup game in their previous five appearances. They began with a memorable 1-0 upset of Norway in Group A but a shock 1-0 defeat to the Philippines tempered expectations.
The Football Ferns again missed out on a place in the last 16, however, after finishing third in Group A with four points — their best ever showing at a World Cup.
“I’m very proud of our team and what we’ve done during this World Cup,” Klimkova said. “When I saw the fans around, the sold-out stadiums and the connection that we had with New Zealand… that’s what we were aiming for, that’s what we wanted.
“We were very close to achieving a historic result… We got four points and two clean sheets. That’s an amazing result from this team. I’m sure we inspired a lot of young girls and boys to start loving and playing football.
“I would say it’s been a successful tournament, even if we didn’t get out of the group… We wanted to make our nation proud and we’ve done it. I’m so glad our crowd and our nation responded the way they did. It means a lot to the players.”
Klimkova is set to remain in charge of New Zealand for next year’s Paris Olympics and the 2027 World Cup, having signed a six-year contract when she took over in September 2021.
The 48-year-old Czech said the World Cup campaign had laid an “amazing” foundation for the future.
“Now New Zealand understands who Football Ferns are,” Klimkova said. “I think being patient and taking the baby steps we’re taking now and just improving step by step, that’s how we want to approach our journey.
“It’s not always going to be perfect. We will have ups and downs. But we always want to look forward and look at what we can do better. That has been our approach since day one… Norway was such an emotional game with the first win ever.
“This team has huge talents, lots of young players that will have another opportunity to play at World Cups and Olympics… We are improving, we are getting better. Our performances here were solid, and that’s what we will build on.”