Japan thrash Spain before Australia face decisive Canada test

Women’s World Cup hosts Australia face their moment of truth when the Matildas take on Canada.

Australia will likely require a win to advance from Group B to the knock-out stages or hope the Republic of Ireland can upset Nigeria after a stunning defeat to the Africans last time out. Canada and Nigeria both know a draw will see them through, while the Republic cannot qualify. Elsewhere, Spain and Japan are already in the last 16 after winning both matches so far, meaning they face off to decide who will win Group C, while Costa Rica take on Zambia and play for pride.

The Lionesses are also finalising their preparation for Tuesday’s crunch match with China following the brutal loss of Keira Walsh to injury. It has been a World Cup packed with surprises, including Colombia’s shock win over Germany. Follow the latest World Cup scores, updates and news in today’s live blog:

Women’s World Cup LIVE: Latest updates

Women’s World Cup: Full time – Japan 4-0 Spain

10:00 , Karl Matchett

Group C finishes thus:

1. Japan 9pts

2. Spain 6

3. Zambia 3

4. Costa Rica 0

Last-16 ties confirmed:

Switzerland vs Spain (5 August, Aukland)

Japan vs Norway (5 August, Wellington)

Women’s World Cup: Full time – Japan 4-0 Spain

09:55 , Karl Matchett

There’s the whistle and Spain have been put out of their misery. Japan have absolutely thrashed them with a supremely clinical showing.

Full time results in Group C:

Japan 4-0 Spain – Almost a late fifth but a free-kick lands on top of the roof of the net.

Costa Rica 1-3 Zambia – The African nation add a late third through Racheal Kundananji.

Women’s World Cup: Japan 4-0 Spain

09:49 , Karl Matchett

Spain’s biggest defeat in over a decade. The first time they’ve conceded four in over a decade. The second-biggest defeat for a European nation at these finals, behind only Italy’s 5-0 loss to Sweden at the weekend.

A truly humbling occasion for Spain, while Japan are really sounding their intent and capacity here to go deep into the tournament. They haven’t conceded a single goal in the group stage.

Women’s World Cup: GOAL! – Japan 4-0 Spain

09:44 , Karl Matchett

Inside the final ten minutes now.

For all their dominance of the ball, for all their neat approach and for all their intent in deeper areas, Spain have managed a measly one shot on target today. Simply nowhere near enough cutting edge to break down a brilliantly organised Japan side, whose gameplan has been absolutely perfect.

And….it’s FOUR! Tanaka just runs and runs and runs and keeps going, before cutting in and bending a left-footer into the top corner!

What a goal, 4-0 to Japan.

Women’s World Cup: Japan 3-0 Spain

09:38 , Karl Matchett

Looking a little further ahead to what this result – assuming no dramatic late comeback – will do for the knockout stage, Spain as we mentioned will now (almost surely!) face Switzerland.

The winners of that fixture are on a collision course with USA in the quarters, if they do the business and beat Portugal in their own final group fixture. If they don’t, it will most likely be Netherlands – another tough assignment.

For Japan, a last-16 tie with Norway must be navigated before facing the winners of G or second in E: currently Sweden and Netherlands respectively.

Women’s World Cup: Japan 3-0 Spain

09:29 , Karl Matchett

We’re welll into the final half-hour and no sign at all of Spain mounting a comeback. Japan have made a handful of subs to keep themselves fresh and preserve a few legs, but despite Spain’s 67% possession it’s the Asian nation who have looked far more impressive today.

Costa Rica thought they had an equaliser against Zambia but it has been ruled out.

Women’s World Cup: Japan 3-0 Spain

09:20 , Karl Matchett

Spain still sticking to their plan, passing and playing and looking for spaces between the defence – of which there are very few.

Yamashita is looking dominant with aerial claims and takes another cross comfortably now – at the moment it’s very much looking as though Spain will be playing Switzerland and Japan will play Norway in the last 16.

Women’s World Cup: Japan 3-0 Spain

09:12 , Karl Matchett

Back underway in both games.

Costa Rica have quickly pulled one back against Zambia, so it’s 2-1 there. Both those sides scoring their first goals of the competition today.

Japan very quickly back on the front foot when counter chances arise.

Women’s World Cup: Half time – Japan 3-0 Spain

08:52 , Karl Matchett

An unexpected scoreline but by no means an undeserved one.

Japan lead Spain 3-0 after an absolute exhibition in counter-attacking play. In the other game in this group it’s Zambia 2-0 Costa Rica at the break.

As it stands in Group C:

1. Japan 9pts

2. Spain 6pts

3. Zambia 3pts

4. Costa Rica 0pts

Women’s World Cup: GOAL! – Japan 3-0 Spain

08:43 , Karl Matchett

Zambia are two goals to the good against Costa Rica too – Barbra Banda has rolled home a penalty, low to the left.

And Japan have scored again!!

This is incredible – absolutely textbook counter for the third time, straight through the spaces Spain are leaving and with three chances in three on target and 3-0!

Hinata Miyazawa with her second, racing through and firing a strike across goal into the far corner. Magnificent.

Women’s World Cup: GOAL! – Japan 2-0 Spain

08:31 , Karl Matchett

Absolutely picturebook perfect! Another lethal counter-attack and Japan have a second goal.

Slightly more fortune in the end but the driving run forward initially by Miyazawa was exceptional, she then frees Ueki on the left side of the box and her cut-in-and-finish is deflected by Paredes, up and over goalkeeper Misa Rodriguez and into the net for 2-0 just before the half-hour mark!

Japan 1-0 Spain

08:20 , Karl Matchett

The match following a pattern so far: Spain with all the ball, not quite making the headway they want into the penalty box and then Japan looking to spring forward in numbers.

They do look a threat on the break and of course have the lead – a strike from range from Paralluelo perhaps suggests the Europeans are just getting a little frustrated.

GOAL! Japan 1-0 Spain

08:15 , Karl Matchett

The Asian nation are ahead! On the break and straight through the middle, 12 minutes on the clock.

Endo plays a brilliant ball around the corner and Hinata Miyazawa shows extraordinary composure to take the first touch out of her feet and then slide a side-footed finish into the bottom corner.

Japan ahead and top of the group!

Women’s World Cup live

08:08 , Karl Matchett

Underway in Wellington and Hamilton.

Spain dominant in possession in the opening stages but the first real opening for Hermoso just escapes her – a crossfield pass to the far post which she can’t quite reach.

Goal early on in the other game – Zambia lead Costa Rica after just a few minutes, Lushomo Mweemba on the scoresheet. They are up to third as it stands.

Women’s World Cup live

07:57 , Karl Matchett

Just a few minutes to kick-off in the opening matches and the big focus will be on Spain, who remain one of the favourites.

The winners of Group C face Norway, with the runners-up heading to Auckland to play Switzerland. They progressed from Group A, remember, with co-hosts New Zealand knocked out yesterday.

Japan vs Spain lineups

07:52 , Karl Matchett

Japan XI: Yamashita, Shimizu, Minami, Kumagai, Miyazawa, Naomoto, Ueki, Nagano, Takahashi, Endo, Hayashi

Spain XI: Rodriguez, Battle, Paredes, Galvez, Carmona, Abelleira, Bonmati, Putellas, Paralluelo, Hermoso, Caldentey

Women’s World Cup: Group B and Group C

07:46 , Karl Matchett

Let’s go in chronological order by kick-offs – which means Group C first.

It’s also the most simple, which at this time in the morning is definitely the best way to start. Spain face Japan but both teams are already qualified for the knockouts, having won their opening two fixtures each. This, then, is a fight for top spot. Costa Rica and Zambia are both looking for their first points, but their campaigns are effectively over.

Then it’s Group B later on, and that’s more open.

Ireland are bottom and already out, but they can prevent group leaders Nigeria progressing if they win and Australia, the hosts, beat Canada.

Australia do need some sort of result though, given they are only on three points with Canada and Nigeria both on four.

We’ll naturally keep it live with the permutations once those 11am fixtures get underway.

Every Women’s World Cup game today

07:40 , Karl Matchett

Morning all – it’s quite a big day of action as we plough further into the final group stage games. That means four matches across each of the next three days, with the following from Groups C and then B today:

8am (BST): Japan vs Spain and Costa Rica vs Zambia

11am (BST): Canada vs Australia and Republic of Ireland vs Nigeria

Full group details coming up…

England veteran Rachel Daly concerned by ACL issue at Women’s World Cup

07:30 , Karl Matchett

England veteran Rachel Daly revealed she blocks out the frightening possibility of becoming a victim of the devastating injury crisis besetting women’s football and the World Cup.

Midfielder Keira Walsh was stretchered off with a suspected knee injury in the first half of the Lionesses’ 1-0 group-stage victory over Denmark on Friday, later appearing on crutches and sparking concern she might join England’s Beth Mead and Leah Williamson on a long list of players ruled out of the 2023 tournament with the same anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury that disproportionately affects women.

There was no update on Walsh’s condition as of Saturday night in Sydney, three days before the Lionesses play China in Adelaide with a target of escaping Group D in top spot.

Daly said: “I don’t think you can think about it, for me, those three letters scare the absolute you-know-what out of me.”

More here:

England veteran Rachel Daly concerned by ACL issue at Women’s World Cup

Sam Kerr ‘available’ for Australia’s must-win clash with Canada after calf injury

07:20 , Jack Rathborn

Australia captain Sam Kerr confirmed she will be available for the Matildas’ final group stage encounter with Canada after missing their first two Women’s World Cup matches with a calf injury.

The Matildas’ chances of progressing from Group B hang in the balance after Thursday’s surprise 3-2 defeat to Nigeria in Brisbane, and only victory over the Olympic champions on Monday will see Tony Gustavsson’s side qualify for the last 16, barring a draw scenario that will still rely on the Republic of Ireland beating Nigeria.

Kerr, her country’s top goal-scorer of either gender, is not just Australia’s strongest weapon – she is more symbolically the poster-woman for this tournament both in her native country and, arguably, around the world.

The Chelsea striker would not confirm if the encouraging update would mean the home support would see her start in Melbourne, telling a press conference: “I feel good. The plan has always been the same, miss the first two games then reassess.

Sam Kerr ‘available’ for Australia’s must-win clash with Canada after calf injury

Why Keira Walsh is irreplaceable for England

07:00 , Jack Rathborn

“I’ve done my knee.”

Keira Walsh knew it immediately, and then came the words to devastate the Lionesses and England’s chances of winning the World Cup as well. That’s how significant a blow losing Walsh is for any amount of time, let alone the tournament and potentially beyond. If England had one irreplaceable player, it would be Walsh. If Sarina Wiegman could have chosen any star to protect for the rest of the World Cup, it would have been their holding midfielder and pass master.

The Lionesses now face a terrible wait to discover the extent of Walsh’s injury. It overshadowed England’s win over Denmark, and threatens to hang over the rest of their tournament in Australia. After losing Leah Williamson and Beth Mead to ACL injuries, it looks like England have suffered another, a cruel twist that came after Wiegman made two changes to her team and the Lionesses, for the first time this World Cup, looked to have clicked into gear.

Why Keira Walsh is irreplaceable for England

Morocco’s Benzina becomes the first senior-level Women’s World Cup player to compete in hijab

06:30 , Jack Rathborn

Stepping onto the field against South Korea in Morocco’s second Women’s World Cup match, defender Nouhaila Benzina made history as the first player to wear a hijab while competing at a senior-level global tournament.

A FIFA ban on playing in religious head coverings in its sanctioned games for “health and safety reasons” was overturned in 2014 after advocacy from activists, athletes and government and soccer officials.

“I have no doubt that more and more women and Muslim girls will look at Benzina and just really be inspired – not just the players, but I think decision makers, coaches, other sports as well,” said Assmaah Helal, a co-founder of the Muslim Women in Sports Network.

Benzina becomes first senior-level Women’s World Cup player to compete in hijab

Women’s World Cup 2023: Brilliant Colombia cause huge shock with Germany win and co-hosts crash out

Sunday 30 July 2023 20:19 , Jack Rathborn

Colombia will celebrate their stunning upset victory over Germany at the Women’s World Cup but have no intention of resting on their laurels, assistant coach Angelo Marsiglia said after the 2-1 win.

Manuela Vanegas scored a dramatic last-gasp winner to put the South Americans top of Group H and all but secure their progress to the knockout stage of the tournament with an all-time great upset.

“We need to give this win to our whole country,” said Marsiglia. “After the game, we were overcome by emotions. Emotions were running high but we gathered in a circle on the pitch and we said ‘look, let’s enjoy this but keep our feet on the ground’. We will go step by step.”

Women’s World Cup 2023: Brilliant Colombia cause huge shock and co-hosts crash out

England provide Keira Walsh injury update in Women’s World Cup boost

Sunday 30 July 2023 20:25 , Jack Rathborn

England’s Keira Walsh did not suffer an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Denmark at the Women’s World Cup and could feature later in the tournament after the Lionesses confirmed the midfielder will remain with the squad.

Walsh was stretchered off in the Lionesses’ 1-0 win against Denmark on Friday and there were fears that the 26-year-old had become the latest star in women’s football to suffer an ACL tear – with England captain Leah Williamson and forward Beth Mead among several star names to be ruled out of the World Cup due to the injury.

The Barcelona midfielder was left on crutches after stretching for the ball and catching her studs on the turf, but a scan yesterday afternoon revealed that the injury was not as bad as it first looked and there was no serious ligament damage.

England provide Keira Walsh injury update in Women’s World Cup boost

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