Mixed fortunes for Europe as Ireland fail to secure a single point in the tournament and Spain make it through to the next stage despite conceding four against Japan.
Ireland's women's World Cup dream is officially over, if it even started. Pre-tournament underdog Nigeria used a scoreless draw against the greens on Monday to advance to the round of 16 of the Women’s World Cup.
The Super Falcons finished second in Group B behind tournament co-host Australia.
Each team's best chance to score in the first half came within the first 15 minutes from their respective star players. Ireland’s Katie McCabe was just off target with a left-foot shot in the 5th minute, and Asisat Oshoala couldn’t convert off a breakaway that came nine minutes later.
With the point earned from the draw, Nigeria is into the round of 16. The 40th-ranked team in the world avoided defeat in all three of its group-stage matches, including a shock 3-2 win over Australia.
Ireland's women's team heads home after earning one point in its first major global tournament. The team will look to use the experience gained to its advantage as it attempts to qualify for its first-ever Women’s European Championship in 2025.
As the runner-up in Group B, Nigeria will play the winners of Group D next Monday in Brisbane.
Spain overpowered by Japan in 4-0 loss
Japan scored three times from lightning breaks in the first half, once in the second, and defended resolutely to trounce Spain 4-0 on Monday and top Group C at the Women's World Cup.
Both teams had already clinched places in the round of 16, Japan for the fourth World Cup in succession, Spain for the second.
Golden Ball winner Alexia Putellas' Spain had an overwhelming majority of possession in the half; by the 25-minute mark it had enjoyed 68% and had more than 230 completed passes to Japan's 43. But it was timid, reluctant to go forward and played mostly around the middle of the field, keeping the ball on the ground in the face of the wind. Japan's four goals came from only five attempts.
Japan were a surprise winner of the World Cup in 2011 and runners-up to the United States in 2015. With 12 goals from three group matches this time, they again loom as a title contender.
They now will play Group A runner-up Norway on Saturday in the round of 16 and Spain will play Group A winner Switzerland.
Matildas secure top spot while Zambia make history
Lushomo Mweemba scored the fastest goal at this year’s Women’s World Cup, and Barbra Banda added the 1,000th goal in tournament history, as tournament newcomer Zambia earned its first ever win with a 3-1 victory Costa Rica on Monday.
The victory sent Zambia home from its first World Cup on an emotional high. Both teams had already been eliminated from the knockout stage before the match.
Haley Raso scored her first career Women’s World Cup goals at just the right time, with a first-half brace in Australia's 4-0 win over Canada in Monday's pivotal group-stage finale.
The Matildas, who also got goals from Mary Fowler and Steph Catley in the second half, clinched top spot in Group B and a place in the round of 16 at the expense of the Olympic champion.
Australia needed a win to guarantee it advanced and will now face the second-place finisher in Group D in the round of 16 next in Sydney. Canada needed to avoid defeat to avoid elimination.