Football World Cup: Spain hammer Zambia to reach knockouts, Canada beat Ireland for first win of tournament

Spain have underlined their credentials as pre-tournament favourites, 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, while Jennifer Hermoso and Alba Redondo scored twice to give Spain their second victory, which also assured Japan of last-16 qualification, after they beat Costa Rica 2-0.

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.

Adriana Leon celebrates for Canada against Republic of Ireland.
Adriana Leon celebrates for Canada against Republic of Ireland. Photo credit: Getty Images

Spain continued to dominate after halftime, although Zambia goalkeeper Eunice Sakala made several saves. She was left stranded, when Redondo was put through on goal, as the forward rounded the 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 video review, when the assistant referee flagged for offside.

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

Meanwhile, an accurate toe-poke by forward Adriana Leon, coupled with a touch of fortune, has allowed Canada to secure a 2-1 victory against Ireland - their first of this year's tournament - in wet and windy conditions at Perth Oval.

Fresh off a scoreless draw with Nigeria, Canada put themselves ahead in the match, when Leon found the back of the net in the 53rd minute, as her side increasingly exerted their dominance over a plucky Irish outfit.

In an exciting first half that had attacking play at both ends, Ireland captain Katie McCabe opened the scoring with a fourth-minute corner that curled through the air and into the net, giving the girls in green their first-ever World Cup goal.

Canada worked diligently, but failed to convert their first genuine chance in the 30th minute, when Vanessa Gilles put too much on a chip within the six-yard box.

Some luck fell the way of the Olympic champions, when they equalised on the cusp of halftime, a powerful cross from midfielder Julia Grosso deflecting off Ireland's Megan Connolly for an own goal in driving rain.

The second half grew into an arm-wrestle, but McCabe battled hard and created two opportunities late in the game, which missed the target.

Brought on after the break, Christine Sinclair, 40, found few chances near goal and will have to wait until Canada's clash with co-hosts Australia at Melbourne on Monday to potentially become the first player to score at six World Cups.

Ireland - who cannot progress to the knockout stage, after also losing their opener against Australia - play their final match against Nigeria at Brisbane.


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