Spain enjoys big win, Canada held to goalless draw

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Group C favorite Spain made a strong showing in their Women's World Cup opener, blanking Costa Rica 3-0 in Wellington on Friday. However, Group B favorite Canada was left at a 0-0 standstill by Nigeria in Melbourne, reported Xinhua.

In a riveting first half, Spain displayed their famed possession game and got on the scoreboard through an own goal from Valeria del Campo in the 20th minute. This kickstarted a scoring spree from Spain as Aitana Bonmati and Jennifer Hermoso netted goals almost immediately after the first.

Despite firing off an impressive 46 shots, Spain couldn't add another as Costa Rica fought tenaciously against the odds to minimize the deficit.

Earlier, Christine Sinclair missed a penalty, resulting in Tokyo Olympic champion Canada settling for a 0-0 draw with Nigeria at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium. While Canada entered as firm favorite, the scoreless outcome has left Group B up in the air.

Both teams walked away with a point each while co-hosts Australia assumed the top spot with three points following a 1-0 win over Ireland on Thursday.

"Of course, the team and I are devastated," confessed Canada coach Bev Priestman, whose team's next match is against Ireland in Perth on July 26.

Sinclair, the 40-year-old captain and record-setting goal scorer for Canada, aspired to become the first player to score at six World Cups. Yet, Sinclair missed her shot at the record books when her 50th-minute penalty was deflected by goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, who made several crucial saves in the match.

Nnadozie also skillfully blocked a close-range shot from Evelyne Viens in the 65th minute.

"I'm probably going to embarrass her, but I think she's one of the best young goalkeepers in the world today," praised Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum of the 22-year-old Nnadozie.

Nigeria's tough defense frustrated world No. 7 Canada, who entered the tournament with high aspirations of clinching their first-ever World Cup title.

In stoppage time, Deborah Abiodun received the first red card of the tournament after an erroneous tackle and will sit out Nigeria's next game against Australia on July 27.

As the final whistle blew, Nigeria celebrated the unexpected result with jubilation, as Nnadozie dropped to her knees and roared in triumph.

In Group A, Switzerland notched a comfortable 2-0 victory over newcomer the Philippines in Dunedin, who put up a spirited fight but was overwhelmed in the second half. Switzerland dominated with 74 percent possession and eight shots on target compared to the Philippines' zero.

However, Switzerland had a hard time penetrating the defense until just before half-time when Ramona Bachmann was fouled in the box, leading to her successful penalty kick conversion. Switzerland secured their lead when Seraina Piubel scored in the 64th minute and comfortably sailed to victory from there.

"It was a tough game. We knew that we had to be patient," admitted Switzerland defender Luana Bühler.

World No. 20 Switzerland joined New Zealand, who had a notable win over Norway on Thursday, in holding three points in Group A.

Saturday will feature the two-time defending champion, the United States, who will commence their title defense against Vietnam in a slate of four games.

  •  Women’s WC
  •  FIFA


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