On Wednesday, Spain easily defeated Zambia 5-0 to advance to the round of 16 of the Women’s World Cup, making it a historic night for Jennifer Hermoso.
With Teresa Abelleira’s 25-yard rocket of a shot into the top corner of the Zambia goal, Spain had already put themselves on the road to victory after just nine minutes. Salma Paralluelo’s early near call gave La Roja a good start, but the Copper Queens failed to heed the warnings and fell behind before the clock even reached ten.
Four minutes later, Jennifer Hermoso, who was playing in her 100th match for her country, doubled the advantage by scoring one of the goals of her career with a simple two-yard header off an assist from Alexia Putellas. Hermoso believed she had scored her 50th goal before halftime to commemorate the milestone appearance, but she would have to wait when the offside flag was raised after she had converted from Aitana Bonmati’s cross.
After a wonderful play from Eva Navarro caught the African nation of Zambia out on the break, a substitute, Alba Redondo, the top scorer in Spain this past season, around Zambia goalkeeper Eunice Sakala, put the outcome beyond doubt. Hermoso scored that historic goal less than a minute later, capping off a magnificent night for La Roja with an instinctive finish in the area. Redondo still had time to add a second goal late on.
As a result, Zambia and Costa Rica were the first two teams to be eliminated from the group stages of the Women’s World Cup, joining Spain and Japan, who had earlier in the day defeated Costa Rica 2-0.
Despite Putellas’ elegant performance before her half-time substitution, Hermoso was the star of the show. She scored a goal to mark reaching 100 appearances for Spain, and even though it appeared for a while that she wouldn’t get her 50th goal, it came in the second half to truly make it a night to remember for the seasoned forward.
This Zambian team has a ton of skill, with Barbra Banda as the highlight. The forward repeatedly attempted to go it alone and get in behind the Spain defence due to the lack of assistance around her, but she was unable to do so on what turned out to be a miserable night for the entire Copper Queens attack as the team was eliminated from the Women’s World Cup.
When Spain and Japan face off in Wellington on Monday, they will compete for first place in Group C. In Hamilton, Zambia and Costa Rica will also be kicking off at the same time and competing for pride as they try to avoid having their World Cup campaigns end without a point.