Japan defeated Costa Rica to advance to the round of 16 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia-New Zealand.
Japan defeated Costa Rica 2-0 on Saturday at Dunedin Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand, in their second Group C match of the tournament.
With a 5-0 win over Zambia in the first leg, Japan secured six early points and punched their ticket to the Round of 16 when Spain defeated Zambia in the next match.
Japan, ranked 11th in the FIFA rankings, is a women’s soccer powerhouse that won the 2011 tournament and was runner-up in 2015.
Costa Rica, ranked 36th in the FIFA rankings, was making its second appearance at the World Cup after the 2015 tournament, but was eliminated after losing two straight games, including a 0-3 loss to Spain in the first round.
A first-ever World Cup round of 16 appearance is next on the agenda.
Japan took advantage of a defensive lapse to open the scoring.
In the 25th minute, Costa Rica’s Maria Paula Cotto tried to clear the ball with a tackle, but her foot didn’t catch it. Japan’s Hikaru Naomoto then drove the ball into the penalty area on the left side of the box and struck the bottom of the opposite post with a left-footed shot.
Japan added a second goal two minutes later.
Aoba Fujino, born in 2004, won a tussle with an opponent on the right flank before driving the ball into the penalty area near the goal line and finishing with a right-footed shot. The ball left Fujino’s foot and sailed through the narrow gap between the goalkeeper and the post and into the corner of the opposite goal.
Fujino became the first Japanese player in Women’s World Cup history to score as a teenager.
In the other Group C match at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, Spain punched their ticket to the round of 16 with a 5-0 win over Zambia.
Spain, ranked No. 6 in the FIFA rankings, also secured six points with the win, following a 3-0 victory over Costa Rica in their first group game.
This is the second consecutive round of 16 appearance for Spain, who first qualified for the World Cup at the 2015 tournament.
Zambia, ranked 77th in the FIFA rankings, suffered a 0-5 loss to Japan in their first group game and a 0-5 loss to Spain later in the day, conceding five goals in two consecutive games and scoring none.
In their first-ever World Cup appearance, Zambia realized the high hurdle of reaching the round of 16.
Spain opened the scoring in the ninth minute with a picturesque right-footed mid-range shot from near the penalty arc in front of goal by midfielder Teresa Aveira.
Four minutes later, a cross from the left penalty area was headed in from the opposite side by signature striker Henrique Hermoso, who finished with a header from just in front of the goal.
With the score 2-0 at the break, Spain resumed their goal barrage in the 24th minute of the second half.
Striker Alba Redondo, who had been on the ground since the start of the second half, sprinted off the line and collected a distributed pass from the midfield near the penalty spot.
Redondo battled his way through the defense and into the penalty area, beating the goalkeeper before finishing with his left foot from the left side of the penalty area to rock the net.
Spain quickly added a fourth goal.
A minute later, in the 25th minute, Hermoso celebrated his 100th appearance in A-matches with a left-footed shot into the bottom corner of the near post from a ball that bounced off the post.
In the 40th minute, Redondo completed his hat-trick with a chest-trapping right-footed shot that found the back of the net.
Zambia played two exhibition games against South Korea in April this year, with South Korea winning 5-2 and 5-0.
Spain’s goal-fest against Zambia puts them in first place in Group C.
Japan (6 wins, +7 goal differential) is in second place, with the same number of wins as Spain (6 wins, +8 goal differential) but with a worse goal differential.
With two losses apiece, Costa Rica (0 points, -5 goals) and Zambia (0 points, -10 goals) are in third and fourth place.
The final Group C matches between Costa Rica and Zambia and Japan and Spain will take place on Aug. 31.
Japan and Spain are battling for first place in Group C.
The Group C winner will play the Group A runner-up and the Group C runner-up will meet the Group A winner in the round of 16.
Switzerland leads Group A with three points, followed by New Zealand (0 goals against) and the Philippines (-1 goals against) in second and third place, respectively, and Norway in fourth place with one point.
Meanwhile, for the first time in the Women’s World Cup, both the main and assistant referees were Korean, as Spain and Zambia faced off against each other.
Oh Hyun-jung served as the head referee and Lee Seul-gi and Park Mi-sook served as the assistant referees.
Canada came from behind to beat Ireland 2-1 in a Group B match at Rectangular Stadium in Perth, Australia.
Canada, ranked seventh in the FIFA World Rankings, finished fourth in the 2003 tournament in the United States and reached the quarterfinals of the 2015 World Cup on home soil, and have been particularly strong on the Olympic stage, finishing third in two of the last three Games and winning gold at Tokyo 2020.
Ireland, ranked 22nd in the FIFA World Rankings, found out the hard way how difficult it can be to get a first win at a World Cup, falling 0-1 to Australia in their 카지노 opening group game, before coming from behind to take the lead later in the day.
Canada, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Nigeria in their first group game, made things difficult for the Irish early on in a game played in heavy rain.
The Irish opened the scoring in the fourth minute of the first half when Katie McCabe’s right-footed kick from the right corner of the box deflected off a corner set piece and went straight into the net.
After Ireland equalized on an own goal just before halftime, Canada pulled ahead eight minutes into the second half when Adriana Ryan fell to a cross from the left flank and put her left foot on the ball.
With the three points, Canada moves into first place in Group B with four points.
Australia (3 points) and Nigeria (1 point), who have played one game less, remain in second and third place, respectively.
Ireland, which has lost two straight, is in fourth place.
The other match in Group B, between Australia and Nigeria, will take place on the 27th.