Australia, Nigeria into World Cup last 16 but Canada dumped out

By AFP   July 31, 2023 | 03:34 pm PT
Australia, Nigeria into World Cup last 16 but Canada dumped out
Australia's defender Stephanie Catley (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring her team's fourth goal from the penalty kick during the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women's World Cup Group B football match between Canada and Australia at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, also known as AAMI Park, in Melbourne. Photo by AFP
Co-hosts Australia surged into the Women's World Cup last 16 on Monday with Hayley Raso scoring twice in a 4-0 battering of Canada as Nigeria joined them in the knockout phase.

Olympic champions Canada were dumped out at the hands of a fired-up Australian team who knew they had to win in Melbourne to progress.

They did it in style, their big victory putting them through as Group B winners, meaning they will probably avoid European champions England in the next round.

That is likely to fall on Nigeria, who were held 0-0 by already eliminated Ireland in Brisbane and finished second.

Tony Gustavsson's Australian team came into the clash with Canada under huge pressure following a stunning 3-2 loss to Nigeria that left their tournament hopes on a knife-edge.

But rather than wilt, the Matildas thrived, to the delight of a raucous 27,706 fans who were kicking every ball.

"But we didn't shy away from it."

Star striker Sam Kerr, who missed Australia's first two games with a calf injury, declared herself fit but remained on the bench as her team-mates more than compensated for her.

Real Madrid's Raso put them ahead in the ninth minute, then made it two half an hour later with a close-range tap-in.

A shellshocked Canada made four changes at half-time as coach Bev Priestman attempted to salvage their World Cup.

But the comeback never materialised and Mary Fowler bagged Australia's third from a counter-attack before Steph Catley sealed victory with an injury-time penalty.

Japan sent a World Cup warning with a clinical 4-0 thrashing of Spain.

The 2011 champions were 3-0 up by half-time in Wellington as they romped to a victory that allowed them to finish top of Group C and set up a last-16 tie against Norway.

Hinata Miyazawa scored twice either side of a Riko Ueki goal, with Mina Tanaka wrapping up a stunning win late on.

Their first victory in five attempts over Spain was so comprehensive it suggests 11th-ranked Japan may be contenders to win the tournament.

They finish the group stage with 11 goals, more than any other team, while they are yet to concede.

Miyazawa, who was substituted at half-time, is also now the tournament's leading scorer with four goals.

"I never imagined it. All of the goals are because of the other players giving me the right passes. So it's everybody's goal, not just me," she said.

Spain, who like Japan had already qualified for the last 16 before this game, finish as runners-up in their group and now play Switzerland in Auckland on Saturday.

In the other Group C game, Zambia won a Women's World Cup match for the first time with a 3-1 victory over Costa Rica as they ended their tournament on a high.

On Tuesday the United States and England will look to seal their last-16 spots.

The Americans are pursuing a third World Cup title in a row but have been far from their best and were held 1-1 by the Netherlands last time out.

The USA may need a big win to finish on top of Group E ahead of the Netherlands, but a shock defeat would almost certainly end their tournament.

"The most important thing obviously is getting in the knockout stage first and foremost and that is our main focus right now," said their coach, Vlatko Andonovski.

"We don't want to look two, three or four steps forward. If we start thinking too far ahead, our chance may never come."

The Dutch face already eliminated Vietnam in the other match in the group.

Also on Tuesday, England only need a draw against China to be sure of going through but will be without key midfielder Keira Walsh due to a knee injury.

Denmark, who are in pole position to get out of Group D with England, face Haiti.

If England top the group they will face Nigeria while the team that comes second in Group D meets Australia.

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