April 20, 2024 4:58 am
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Dazzling Spain Decimate Zambia 5-0, Securing Spot in World Cup Last 16 Alongside Japan

Jennifer Hermoso and Alba Redondo shine as Spain secures last 16 spot in Women’s World Cup

Spain secured their place in the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup with an impressive 5-0 victory over Zambia on Wednesday. The win not only guaranteed Spain’s progression but also propelled Japan into the knockout phase. Jennifer Hermoso and Alba Redondo were the standout performers, both scoring twice in the match.

Spain's forward #17 Alba Redondo (C) celebrates scoring her team’s fifth goal during the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women’s World Cup Group C football match between Spain and Zambia at Eden Park in Auckland on July 26, 2023.

Spain started strongly, with the return of Alexia Putellas, who recently recovered from a serious knee injury. Putellas played a vital role in setting up early goals by Teresa Abelleira and Jennifer Hermoso. Alba Redondo, who came on as a substitute in the second half, also made a significant impact, scoring twice to seal Spain’s victory.

Coach Jorge Vilda made the decision to substitute Putellas at half-time to protect her for the upcoming Group C decider against Japan. Both Spain and Japan are now tied on six points, but Spain’s superior goal difference means they only need a draw to finish in first place.

Unfortunately, Zambia’s dreams of advancing in their debut World Cup appearance were dashed with this defeat. They have suffered two consecutive 5-0 losses and will be exiting the tournament in the first round.

Zambia’s midfielder #06 Mary Wilombe (C) is comforted after losing to Spain in their Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women’s World Cup Group C football match at Eden Park in Auckland on July 26, 2023.

Alexia Putellas’ return to form has been remarkable, considering her lengthy absence due to injury. She had made cameo appearances for Barcelona in the final weeks of the season before representing Spain in a pre-World Cup friendly against Panama. Putellas’ influence in the midfield was evident in this match as she linked up well with her Barcelona teammates and created scoring opportunities.

Spain took an early lead in the ninth minute when Hermoso set up Abelleira to score from outside the box. Just a few minutes later, Putellas delivered a perfect cross for Hermoso to head in and extend Spain’s lead to 2-0.

Zambia, led by the dynamic Barbra Banda, had the support of the majority of the nearly 21,000 spectators. However, they struggled to create chances against a strong Spanish defense.

In the second half, Coach Vilda made three substitutions. Putellas was replaced by Alba Redondo, who made an immediate impact by scoring Spain’s third goal. Hermoso added another goal just one minute later, initially ruled offside but awarded after a VAR check.

Hermoso came close to completing her hat-trick, but her shot hit the crossbar. However, Redondo sealed the victory for Spain with her second goal in the final minutes of the game, making it 5-0.

Despite the offside flag being raised, the decision was overturned on review, giving Redondo her well-deserved goal.

Spain’s convincing win not only secures their place in the last 16 but also ensures Japan’s progression in the tournament. The stage is now set for an exciting Group C decider between Spain and Japan, with Spain aiming to finish in first place.

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