Thrilling Matches Unfold in FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Double Kickoff

In the Group C match between Costa Rica and Zambia at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, both teams were already out of contention for the knockout stages. Despite this, both nations showcased their passion and desire to end the tournament on a high note.

Zambia started the match with sustained possession, while Costa Rica applied a high press to try and disrupt their opponents. In the 3rd minute, Zambia earned a corner and Mweemba capitalised on it, lobbing the goalkeeper to give her team the lead (0-1).

In the 31st minute, Zambia was awarded a penalty, which B Banda calmly converted. Notably, this 1,000th goal in World Cup history (0-2). 

Costa Rica struggled to find their rhythm in the first half, with Herrera’s cross hitting the side netting as one of their few chances.

In the second half, Costa Rica started to find their footing. In the 47th minute, Herrera scored from a corner to bring them back into the game (1-2). Costa Rica appealed for a penalty in the 53rd minute after a collision in the box, but after a VAR check, no penalty was given.

As the match progressed, both teams made substitutions and had opportunities to score. However, it was Zambia who sealed the victory in the 90+3rd minute with a counter-attacking goal by Kundananji (1-3). 

This historic win meant that Zambia would return home with their first-ever World Cup victory, while Costa Rica continued to search for their first World Cup win.

Japan vs Spain:

In the Women’s World Cup 2023 match between Japan and Spain, Japan put on a tactical masterclass to secure a dominant victory over their opponents.

Japan made five changes to their lineup, while Spain made one change due to injury. From the start, Spain showcased their possession-based style of play, but Japan’s defensive shape remained compact and resilient.

In the 12th minute, against the run of play, Japan took the lead through Miyazawa (1-0).

Spain continued to dominate possession, but Japan’s disciplined defence prevented them from creating clear scoring opportunities.

Japan capitalised on their counter-attacking strategy in the 29th minute when Ueki scored to extend their lead (2-0). 

Just before halftime, Miyazawa struck again to make it 3-0 for Japan, completing another ruthless counter-attack.

In the second half, Spain made substitutions in an attempt to break through Japan’s defence, but their efforts were futile. Japan remained solid at the back and continued to hit Spain on the break.

In the 82nd minute, Tanaka further extended Japan’s lead to 4-0, putting the game out of reach for Spain. The match ended with a dominant 4-0 victory for Japan.

Japan’s impressive performance showcased their skill in executing counter-attacks, while Spain’s possession-based approach lacked penetration in the final third. Japan’s coach, Futoshi Ikeda, will be proud of his team’s near-perfect performance, setting up a last-16 clash against Norway. Spain, on the other hand, will need to regroup and find a way to bounce back in their upcoming match against Switzerland.

Australia Dominate Canada, While Nigeria Advances with Draw Against Ireland

Australia’s co-host status at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 was hanging in the balance as they faced Canada in a crucial Group B match. Australia needed to avoid defeat to secure their place in the knockout stages. The match took place at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, with a sold-out crowd of around 30,000 in attendance.

The game kicked off with Australia enjoying early possession, but Canada quickly launched a counterattack. However, their final ball was intercepted by Ellie Carpenter, and the Matildas cleared the danger. In the 10th minute, Australia took the lead through Hayley Raso. Kyra Cooney-Cross delivered a high ball into the box, which was initially missed by Clare Hunt’s header. Raso pounced on the loose ball and drilled it low into the bottom left corner. The linesman initially flagged for offside, but VAR overturned the decision, and Australia took a 1-0 lead.

Australia continued to dominate proceedings, creating chances and putting pressure on the Canadian defence. Raso came close to scoring her second goal in the 13th minute, but her effort was denied. Canada tried to regain control of the game with sideways passing in their own half, but Australia remained unfazed.

In the 38th minute, Raso doubled Australia’s lead. Carpenter won a corner on the left, and from the resulting play, Raso found the back of the net. 

Canada faced a mountain to climb, and Australia was buzzing with confidence. The first half ended with Australia leading 2-0.

The second half started with four changes for Canada, as coach Bev Priestman looked to inspire her team. However, it was Australia who struck first in the 57th minute. Carpenter played a through ball to Caitlin Foord, who beat the offside trap and crossed for Mary Fowler. Fowler calmly scored from close range, extending Australia’s lead to 3-0.

Canada had a golden opportunity to pull one back in the 76th minute when the ball fell to Schmidt, but her shot was deflected over the bar. Fowler almost added another goal in the 80th minute, hitting the post. Australia made a substitution, bringing on Clare Polkinghorne and reverting to a 5-2-3 formation.

In the 90+3rd minute, Australia were awarded a penalty after Gorry was fouled by Fleming inside the box. Steph Catley stepped up and scored her second penalty of the tournament, securing a 4-0 victory for Australia. 

The Matildas advanced to the round of 16, showcasing their ability to bounce back and keep their World Cup hopes alive.

Nigeria faced winless Ireland in their final Group B match, knowing that a draw would be enough to secure their place in the knockout stages. The game was held in Brisbane, with Nigeria wearing all green and Ireland in all white. Nigeria opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation, while Ireland started in a 3-4-3 setup.

The match kicked off with Nigeria having the better start, finding their rhythm and forcing some mistakes from the Irish defence. Asisat Oshoala looked lively for Nigeria, constantly pressuring the Ireland area. In the 5th minute, Katie McCabe came close to giving Ireland the lead, but her effort was saved.

As the first half progressed, Ireland’s McCabe continued to excel, putting in an excellent display for her country. Nigeria allowed Ireland to keep possession and countered with their attacking pace. The match remained tightly contested, with Oshoala and McCabe having the best chances of the half.

The score remained 0-0 at halftime, with Nigeria doing what they needed to advance to the knockout stages โ€“ securing a draw. The second half started with no changes for either team.

It was Nigeria who dominated possession in the second half, with their passing and movement becoming more clinical. In the 52nd minute, Nigeria came close to taking the lead, but Courtney Brosnan made a superb save to deny them. Nigeria continued to control the game, while Ireland struggled to maintain possession.

In the 87th minute, both teams made substitutions. Nigeria brought on Onome Ebi, while Ireland introduced Abbie Larkin and Marissa Sheva. Seven minutes of stoppage time were added.

Ireland had a brief spell of possession in the closing stages, but Nigeria looked content to secure a draw and their place in the knockout stages. The Irish fans were the loudest in the half-full stadium, cheering their team on until the final whistle.

The match ended in a 0-0 draw, and Nigeria advanced to the knockout stages. They had successfully navigated through the group stage, while Ireland ended their World Cup campaign without a victory.

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