Jennifer Hermoso scored twice and assisted in her 100th international appearance to push Spain 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.
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.
Teresa Abelleira launched a quick 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.
WATCH | Soccer North previews Canada vs. Australia:
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.
Japan 2, Costa Rica 0
Hikaru Naomoto and Aoba Fujino scored two minutes apart in the first half to lead Japan to a 2-0 Women’s World Cup victory over Costa Rica.
The two teams kicked off in front of a sparse crowd of 6,992 at Dunedin Stadium, a huge differential from the record sales of over 1.5 million tickets for this year’s tournament. High fan turnout in Auckland and Sydney — there were 117,000 combined at opening night in those cities — have been partly offset by much smaller crowds in Dunedin, where attendance has dropped with each match from an initial high of 13,711.
Las Ticas kept the pressure high throughout the match, but the Japanese dominated with precision in ball handling and passes.
Mina Tanaka passed the ball to Naomoto, who dribbled past a Costa Rican defender before scoring on outstretched goalkeeper Daniela Solera in the 25th minute. Fujino then snuck the ball in on an angle into the far left corner of the net. Costa Rican defenders Maria Paula Elizondo and Mariana Benavides failed to stop Fujino from scoring.