Spain moves onto knockout stage after rout of Zambia
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — As she has many times before, Jennifer Hermoso answered the call for Spain on Wednesday night.
She scored twice and assisted in her 100th international appearance to push La Roja past Zambia 5-0 on Wednesday, a victory that locked both Spain and Japan into the Women’s World Cup knockout round.
Spain and Japan are the first teams to clinch berths in the tournament’s round of 16. They will play on Monday in Wellington to decide seeding.
“I’m very happy to be in the last 16, I'm proud of moments during the game,” Spain coach Jorge Vilda said. “And I’m very happy that Spain is a team of 23 football players. We saw that today.”
Hermoso, Spain’s all-time leading scorer, deposited a one-time header off a perfect cross from Alexia Putellas in the 13th minute. She then gathered a rebound and scored on an empty net in the 70th minute. The goal was initially wiped away for offside, then eventually confirmed after a lengthy review.
“To score two goals in the World Cup,” Hermoso said through a translator. “I will keep that forever.”
Teresa Abelleira launched a 58-mph strike from well outside the box in the ninth minute and beat Eunice Sakala to the top side of the net, her second goal with the Spain national team.
Like Hermoso, Alba Redondo also scored twice, in the 69th and 85th minutes. Her first goal was an impressive run off of a long pass, while her second was on a rebound in front of an empty net.
Spain’s attack benefitted from facing Zambia’s third-string goalkeeper. Sakala started Monday night after the starting goalie and her backup were injured and received a red card, respectively.
The game was played before 20,983 fans in chilly Eden Park, the lowest attendance of the four games played so far in New Zealand’s largest city.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
“Jenni is magic on the pitch. Her style of play is very different, she has a lot of experience, that’s what she’s good at. She had a great performance with two goals this match, and we’re very happy,” Spain forward Salma Paralluelo.
“On one-versus-one situation, I think they took advantage because they were able to eliminate our defenders. That was one of the strengths that they had,” Zambia coach Bruce Mwape.
Barbra Banda registered Zambia’s first shot on goal of the tournament in the eighth minute, a good chance to turn early momentum toward the Copper Queens. Spain’s Misa Rodriguez saved the rolling shot.
Abelleira scored in the next minute, and Spain held a clear advantage through the rest of the match.
WHY IT MATTERS
Spain’s win moved La Roja and Japan on from Group C. Both enter their upcoming match with six points, meaning the winner would leave as the higher seed. In the event of a draw, Spain has the tiebreaking edge on goal differential.
Zambia, making its Women’s World Cup debut, is still searching for its first point and goal in the tournament.
Spain takes on Japan on Monday in Wellington to decide Group C’s seeding in the knockout stage. Also Monday, Zambia meets Costa Rica in Hamilton. Both Zambia and Costa Rica are eliminated from advancing out of Group C.
Max Ralph is a student in John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State.
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