Women’s World Cup 2023 Round-Up: Japan shocks Spain, Australia wins Group B

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Women's World Cup Japan Spain
Japan’s players celebrate at the end of the the Women’s World Cup Group C soccer match between Japan and Spain in Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, July 31, 2023. Japan beat Spain 4-0. (AP Photo/John Cowpland)

Australia 4, Canada 0

Australia Canada
Australia’s Hayley Raso, right, celebrates after scoring her side’s second goal during the Women’s World Cup Group B soccer match between Australia and Canada in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, July 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Victoria Adkins)

Women’s World Cup co-hosts Australia topped Group B with a 4-0 thrashing of Canada on Monday. In this must-win match for the Matildas, the home team found form even without their captain, Sam Kerr. 

Aussie winger Hayley Raso opened up the scoring with two first-half goals. Mary Fowler and Steph Catley also added to the deficit, catapulting Australia into the Round of 16. Both teams were fighting for their survival in Melbourne with the Olympic Champions taking on a Kerr-less Australian side. 

Spurred on by spirited home fans, Australia took the lead in the 8’. A cross from Catley found Hayley Raso who sent it soaring into the Canadian net, but Raso was called for off-side. Following a review, the goal was allowed by French referee Stéphanie Frappart. With a slim lead, Raso went goal-hunting again. This time tapping in a deflected corner kick from the glove of Canada’s Kailen Sheridan. 

Holding just 38% possession didn’t stop Australia from producing the spoils in the second half. Once again, interim captain Catley was involved in the build-up. She sent a long ball towards Caitlin Ford who made a threatening run at the heart of the Canada defense and knocked it forward to Mary Fowler for the finish. Fowler, who had scored a disallowed goal before the interval, walked it into the net and celebrated. 

Catley gave her home fans one more reason to cheer as she struck home a penalty in the 93’ as a deflated-looking Canada team was left asking what it could have done differently. 

Australia’s Sam Kerr is expected to return from a calf injury for the Round of 16, she was made available for Monday’s Canada game but did not feature. Australia and Nigeria progress to the Round of 16 from Group B. 


Japan 4, Spain 0

Japan Spain
Japan’s Mina Tanaka celebrates with teammates after scoring her side’s 4th goal during the Women’s World Cup Group C soccer match between Japan and Spain in Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, July 31, 2023. (AP Photo/John Cowpland)

In Wellington, New Zealand, Japan topped Group C with a perfect group stage record and shocked La Roja with a 4-0 trouncing despite owning just one-fifth of the possession in an efficient display on Monday. 

Hinata Miyazawa picked up a brace and Miko Ueki and Mina Tanaka also added goals for Nadeshiko. Both teams progress to the Round of 16 after wins over Costa Rica and Zambia. 

Clinical, efficient, and direct, Japan made its presence feel known in this encounter with La Roja. Miyazawa scored her first in the 11 minutes, courtesy of a fast Japanese counterattack. The 23-year-old slid along the ground to send the ball into Misa Rodríguez’s goal. Japan’s second, another counter-attack goal came from Miko Neki as her shot deflected off Irene Paredes and into the net. 

Spain had some chances, Jenni Hermoso and Alexia Putellas were stringing some passes together but by halftime, it was 3-0. Miyazawa struck again in a fast transition in the 39th minute. 

Japan was held scoreless in the second half until the 81st minute when Mina Tanaka made a darting solo run against four red jerseys. She dropped her shoulder, took a step over, and drilled the ball into the top corner. Tanaka capped off an emphatic win for the 2011 champions, giving Spain a lot to ponder as they enter the knockout stages. 


Ireland 0, Nigeria 0

Nigeria Ireland
Nigeria’s Blessing Demehin, back, celebrate with Nigeria’s Osinachi Ohale after the Women’s World Cup Group B soccer match between Ireland and Nigeria in Brisbane, Australia, Monday, July 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)

Nigeria qualified for the Round of 16 with an unbeaten group stage run, capped off by a goalless draw with Ireland — a first-ever World Cup point for the European Girls in Green.

Nigeria progressed to the Round of 16 for the second time in its history, sending Ireland and Canada home from the Women’s World Cup group stages. 

The African nation very nearly took the lead in the 13th minute. Asisat Oshoala missed the target narrowly for the Copper Queens. The Barcelona striker intercepted a Louise Quinn pass and charged at goal, sending the ball wide. Ireland responded with a chance of its own when Katie McCabe curled a cross into Kyra Carusa, who directed her header into Chiamaka Nnadozie’s arms on the goal line. 

New Jersey native Courtney Brosnan made a crucial save to earn Ireland its first Women’s World Cup point. Just after halftime, the Irish goalie made a show-stopping save to deny Uchenna Kanu’s attempt on goal. Brosnan was kept busy by the dynamic Nigerian forwards and repeatedly answered the call for her country. 

Ranked 40th entering the tournament, Nigeria has exceeded expectations with a 3-2 win over hosts Australia and a goalless tie with 7th seed Canada.

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