Katie McCabe scores stunner despite Ireland heartbreak, Spain and Japan ease to knockouts

Republic of Ireland players applaud the crowd after a match.
Republic of Ireland applaud fans after the FIFA Women's World Cup match between Canada and Ireland at Perth Rectangular Stadium on July 26, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

The hearts of Ireland shattered on day seven of the World Cup as Olympic champions Canada knocked them out of the competition. Despite Katie McCabe’s magnificent goal early on, it wasn’t enough to give the Girls in Green their first win and keep them in the running.

Spain continued their dominant run with a 5-0 win over Zambia to secure their place in the knockouts, with Japan also joining them after beating Costa Rica in Group C.

Japan 2-0 Costa Rica

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Kicking off the action for day six, Costa Rica suffered a 2-0 defeat to Japan, eliminating them from the tournament. Hikaru Naomoto got the goal scoring action underway in the 25th minute. No sooner had play resumed, Aoba Fujino doubled Japan’s lead.

The victory sees Nadeshiko through to the knockout stage of the competition ahead of their meeting with Spain. Futoshi Ikeda’s side however will look to improve their accuracy in front of goal, having scored just two from 12 shots on target. Costa Rica will face debutants Zambia in their final game of the tournament for a consolation result.

Spain 5-0 Zambia

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A dominant 5-0 victory for Spain secured La Roja’s progression from the group stage. Two goals inside the opening 13 minutes gave Jorge Vilda’s side a comfortable early lead. Further goals from Alba Redondo and Jenni Hermoso saw Spain comfortably through to the knockouts with a game to spare. 

Despite two excellent performances from the Spaniards, it feels as though the team have not yet reached their full potential. With arguably more challenging games still to come, it will be vital for Vilda’s side to improve on their goal-scoring accuracy. 

Zambia’s debut World Cup will have given the team plenty to focus on going forward. Providing increased service to Barbra Banda will enable Bruce Mwape’s side to create more scoring opportunities. The Zambia captain frequently found herself isolated at the top of the pitch, with Spain able to easily neutralise her goal-scoring threat.  

Canada 2-1 Republic of Ireland

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Captain McCabe scored a definite Goal of the Tournament contender when she curled in the opener straight from the corner flag. The Arsenal star notched herself and Ireland into the history books with their first ever World Cup goal.

But an equaliser just moments before the half-time whistle restored the tie following a frustrating first half for the Canadians. A second for Bev Priestman’s side marked a dramatic turn around in Canada’s performance, dealing heartbreak to the Girls in Green.

The victory sees Priestman’s side through to the knockout stages ahead of their meeting with co-hosts Australia. For Ireland, the defeat marks the end of their hopes of progressing from the group stage. Bagging their first World Cup goal will be huge for morale within Vera Pauw’s side as they look to qualify for future major tournaments.

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