WELLINGTON – The Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is off to an exciting start as Spain and Switzerland secure victories, while Nigeria holds Olympic champions Canada to a draw.
The tournament has already seen intense matches and thrilling performances, giving fans a taste of the action that lies ahead.
In a dominant display, Spain issued a warning to their competitors with a 3-0 win over Costa Rica in Wellington.
Despite facing a clouded build-up due to a dispute involving 15 players who initially refused to feature under coach Jorge Vilda, Spain’s resolve prevailed.
Aitana Bonmati, one of the players who returned to the squad, found the net, and an own goal by Costa Rica put Spain on the path to victory.
Esther Gonzalez added to the scoreline, sealing an impressive win within a six-minute first-half burst.
While Spain missed a few chances and had a first-half penalty fluffed by Jennifer Hermoso, they displayed relentless attacks, making it clear that they are a force to be reckoned with in the tournament.
Their star player, Alexia Putellas, came off the bench in the closing minutes, allaying concerns about her fitness after returning from a knee injury in April.
In another thrilling encounter, Nigeria’s goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was the hero, saving a penalty from Canada’s record-breaking goalscorer Christine Sinclair.
The match ended in a 0-0 draw, keeping both teams level in Group B, which is currently topped by Australia following their 1-0 victory against Ireland.
For Nnadozie, it was a dream come true to save a penalty against a player like Sinclair, who previously scored against her. Her stellar performance earned her the title of player of the match.
Meanwhile, the Philippines’ World Cup debut did not go as planned as they were defeated 2-0 by Switzerland.
The Swiss, ranked 20th in the world, proved too strong for the debutants, who put up a spirited fight.
Switzerland’s Ramona Bachmann was clinical in converting a VAR-awarded penalty, and Seraina Piubel sealed the victory with a goal in the 64th minute.
As the competition continues to intensify, Saturday’s matches will see the favorites in action.
The United States, aiming for an unprecedented third consecutive World Cup title, will face Vietnam in Auckland.
European champions England will take on debutants Haiti in Brisbane. Other games include China against Denmark and Zambia facing the 2011 champions Japan.
The United States may not have Megan Rapinoe as a first-choice starter, but co-captain Lindsey Horan is confident that Rapinoe will play a vital role in the team’s campaign.
The 38-year-old Rapinoe, participating in her fourth and final World Cup before retiring, brings immense experience and intelligence to the field, making her an invaluable asset to the team.
With the tournament just underway, fans can expect more exhilarating matches and outstanding performances as the world’s top teams battle it out for the ultimate prize in women’s football.