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Spain seals spot in Women’s World Cup knockout stages with 5-0 win over Zambia

Spain has cruised to a comfortable 5-0 victory over Zambia at the Women's World Cup in Auckland.

Spain has cruised to a comfortable 5-0 victory over Zambia at the Women's World Cup in Auckland. Photo: AP

Spain has joined Japan as the first teams through to the Women’s World Cup knockout rounds after La Roja defeated Zambia 5-0 in Auckland.

On her 100th appearance for Spain, Jenni Hermoso grabbed a double, as did fellow forward Alba Redondo.

Teresa Abelleira also fired home a ninth-minute thunderbolt that will contend for goal of the tournament, struck powerfully into the top corner from 25 metres.

The contest was over within 15 minutes when Hermoso was left free to nod home Alexia Putellas’ corner.

Redondo rounded goalkeeper Eunice Sakala for a third after the break before Hermoso doubled up, scoring her 50th international goal in humorous circumstances.

The goal was originally flagged for offside, and after a VAR review, South Korean referee Hyeon-jeong Oh confirmed that decision, before correcting herself to lock in Hermoso’s double.

Redondo completed the rout, finishing Eva Navarro’s fine cross as full-time neared.

On current form Spain looms as possible World Cup winners, boasting the lion’s share of possession and three times the completed passes of Zambia.

Coach Jorge Vilda was also able to give Putellas her first start in New Zealand, withdrawing the superstar at half-time.

The result, combined with Japan’s 2-0 win over Costa Rica earlier on Wednesday, settles Group C with the two heavyweights progressing with six points.

Spain and Japan will meet in Wellington on Monday for top spot, with Spain’s superior goal difference meaning Jorge Vilda’s side can make do with a draw.

Zambia, first-time World Cup attendees, and Costa Rica, on its second outing, are out. But both have a chance for a first-ever tournament win when they meet in Hamilton.

Two early concessions meant the underdog Africans were never in the contest, but they did have chances to score.

Abelleira’s strike – the earliest goal in any match so far in Australia-New Zealand – led to an open match, with Zambian forward Barbra Banda offering a tricky outlet on counter-attacks.

However, Zambia suffered further poor fortune, losing Susan Bamba and Lushomo Mweemba to injuries either side of the break.

The Copper Queens were already without their top two goalkeepers, with Hazel Nali struck by a serious knee injury just prior to the tournament and Catherine Musonda sent off in their 5-0 loss to Japan.

In their place, 21-year-old Sakala did exceptionally well, denying both Hermoso and Redondo their hat-tricks among nine saves at Eden Park.

-AAP

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