Spain on Wednesday confirmed their place in the last 16 of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup following a 5-0 victory over Zambia.
An excellent strike by Teresa Abelleira was followed by braces for both Jennifer Hermoso and Alba Redondo to seal a convincing win for the Europeans.
The result means Japan have also qualified for the next round, with the pair set for a winner-takes-all duel on 31 July at Wellington Regional Stadium to confirm who tops Group C.
Spain took control of the contest inside the first 10 minutes when the ball was rolled to Teresa Abelleira just outside of the area.
The midfielder took one touch to set herself before thundering an unstoppable effort into the top-left corner, which Zambia goalkeeper Eunice Sakala could only stand and watch.
La Roja’s free-flowing football continued to carve out openings and they would double their lead soon after as the excellent Alexia Putellas made a typically enterprising run into space down the left.
The Barcelona superstar floated in an inch-perfect cross for Jennifer Hermoso to head home on her 100th cap. Jorge Vilda made a trio of substitutions at half-time and it didn’t take long for one of those to make their mark.
This was when Alba Redondo scampered clear from a long ball to round Sakala and tap into an empty net.
Hermoso added to the scoreline just a minute later, thrashing home her 50th international goal from close-range following a penalty box scramble.
The ever-impressive Redondo then latched on to an Eva Navarro cross to smash home her second goal from 12 yards out.
The result means both Spain and Japan will take part in the knockout phase, while Zambia will join Costa Rica in exiting the tournament.
Jennifer Hermoso, Spain goal scorer and the Player of the Match expressed joy after the match, adding that the goal difference was very important for the team.
“We have obtained another three points, the team started well. Scoring five goals in a World Cup, two games won, [we’re] very happy.
“The other day we were left with the taste of having had many situations and not having scored more goals, but now the goal difference is important for the match with Japan.
“In the end, everything I expected for my third World Cup and to be able to continue enjoying it is what I wanted.
“I dedicate it to my family who is always with me.” (NAN)