IMAGES from the Women's World Cup matches played on Monday.
Japan hammer Spain on the break to top Group C
Hinata Miyazawa scored twice as former champions Japan put on a counter-attacking clinic to beat Spain 4-0 and lock up top spot in Group C at the Women's World Cup on Monday.
Striker Riko Ueki also scored on the break as the Nadeshiko cut through Spain's high press with three lightning raids in the first half before substitute Momoko Tanaka added the fourth with another quality strike eight minutes from time.
Japan, winners of the 2011 World Cup and runners-up in 2015, will remain in the New Zealand capital to play Norway in the last 16 on Saturday, while Spain will move north to Auckland to face Switzerland earlier on the same day.
Both teams had already qualified for the knockout stage after convincing wins in their first two group matches and Japan coach Futoshi Ikeda made five changes to his side for the clash at Wellington Regional Stadium.
Spain took the initiative from the start and Japan's opener in the 12th minute was very much against the run of play.
Jun Endo on the left wing curled a pass behind the Spanish defence and Miyazawa raced in to coolly slide it into the net with her left foot.
It was Miyazawa's third goal of the tournament and the first Spain had conceded in their three games in New Zealand.
Spain continued to dominate possession and territory but the Nadeshiko hit them on the break again in the 29th minute and Ueki, released by Miyazawa, fired a shot at goal that took a deflection off Irene Paredes and ballooned over Misa Rodriguez.
Ueki returned the favour for the third goal in the 40th minute with a through ball that Miyazawa reached on the edge of the box and hammered past Rodriguez with her right foot.
Spain came out in the second half with more purpose but for all their possession and more than 900 passes, they were unable to seriously trouble a Japan defence that has yet to concede a goal at the tournament.
Zambia beat Costa Rica 3-1 for first World Cup win
Debutants Zambia claimed their first ever victory at the Women's World Cup with a 3-1 win over Costa Rica at Waikato Stadium on Monday, although both teams were already out of contention for the knockout stage.
Zambia, whose first two games ended in 5-0 hammerings, finished third in Group C, with Japan top after their 4-0 thrashing of Spain. Costa Rica finished bottom and did not pick up a point in their three matches.
Defender Lushomo Mweemba scored the fastest goal of the tournament so far, with a spectacular volleyed effort at two minutes and 11 seconds, and captain Barbra Banda doubled the lead from the penalty spot just after the half-hour mark.
Melissa Herrera cut the deficit two minutes after the break and Costa Rica pushed for an equaliser, but substitute Racheal Kundananji netted the third in stoppage time to ensure Zambia's debut World Cup campaign ended on a high.
"It's a historic day," Banda said. "We've had a lot of support back home so we wanted to win today ... It was not an easy game for us. It was a battle."
Zambia were awarded the spot kick after Banda went to ground inside the six yard box and the forward stepped up to calmly slot the ball into the bottom left corner, scoring the 1,000th goal in Women's World Cup history.
"I've been practicing penalties in training so I was confident," Banda added. "At the same time, I was nervous ... carrying the hopes of thousands of people back home. It was an honour for me to take that penalty."
Playing at their second World Cup, Costa Rica were still searching for their first win in the competition and scored two minutes after the break, when forward Herrera bundled the ball home after goalkeeper Catherine Musonda was unable to clear it.
Costa Rica appealed for a penalty when midfielder Priscila Chinchilla collided with Musonda in the box, but were denied after a lengthy VAR check when replays showed forward Sheika Scott was offside in the build-up.
Herrera had the ball in the net again with around 20 minutes remaining but was ruled offside and Valeria Del Campo fired wide before, against the run of play, Kundananji scored from Banda's cross in stoppage time to seal a historic result.
Nigeria into World Cup last 16 despite stalemate with Ireland
Nigeria advanced to the Women's World Cup knockout stages for the third time in their history after a 0-0 draw with Ireland in their final Group B match on Monday, with the African side finishing second in the group behind hosts Australia.
Nigeria started the game top of the standings and only needed to avoid defeat to reach the last 16, regardless of the result in the other Group B match in Melbourne where Australia thrashed Canada 4-0 to leapfrog the Africans.
Nigeria will have to wait until Tuesday to discover who their last-16 opponents will be next week in Brisbane, but they side are likely to play European champions England who are favourites to top Group D.
"I don't think anybody, before we got here, believed that we could get out of this group and go through it without losing a match," Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum said.
"So I'm so proud of them and the effort they put in and so happy for them that they're getting to experience this."
Both teams were playing in their away kits to avoid an all-green clash. But Brisbane's Lang Park was a sea of green in the stands, with plenty of support for Ireland despite their early elimination.
After Irish skipper Katie McCabe flashed an early effort wide, Nigeria came closest to taking the lead in the first half through striker Asisat Oshoala when they pounced on an errant pass from Louise Quinn.
Oshoala was set through on goal with just the keeper to beat but the Barcelona striker fired wide to give Ireland a reprieve.
Seven minutes into the second half, Uchenna Kanu rose above the Ireland defence to direct a header on goal but Courtney Brosnan made a timely save to parry the ball onto the crossbar and away to safety.
"It was an unbelievable ball into the box, one of those teasing ones I thought I could come at the last second. I dropped back and I knew I needed to make a special save on the line, so I just kind of threw my body out," said Brosnan.
"I wanted to keep us in it. I knew we deserved something from today, so I'm really happy with that."
Brosnan came to Ireland's rescue again when Nigeria attempted to break through the defence with a clever set-piece routine before the Everton keeper rushed off her line to snatch the ball.
While debutants Ireland go home having earned their first ever point at the World Cup, Nigeria will be looking to better their quarter-final run from 1999.
"We knew this was going to be the group of death, we knew it was going to be hard," midfielder Toni Payne said.
"If we play like how we're playing, if we improve on each game, I think we can go all the way to the final."
Australia crush Canada 4-0 to reach World Cup knockouts
Hayley Raso scored a first half brace and Mary Fowler struck after the break as Australia crushed Canada 4-0 on Monday to storm into the last 16 of the Women's World Cup and send the Olympic champions spinning out of the tournament.
In front of a febrile crowd at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Raso struck in the ninth minute with a low, rightfooted shot and doubled down in the 39th from a goalmouth scramble as unused captain Sam Kerr cheered by the touchline.
Fowler made sure of the win with a deft touch in the 58th minute that pinged in off the right post, before Steph Catley slotted a penalty in stoppage time as a relieved nation celebrated the co-hosts' advance.
"It means so much to us," Raso told Channel 7. "I'm so proud of the girls. We put in a real shift tonight and everybody fought for each other and to come away with a pretty convincing win is very exciting.
"We had our backs against the walls after (the) last game and we knew that we needed to come out and put in a big performance. We knew we needed to win, we wanted to top the group. We showed that never-say-die attitude and we gave it all tonight."
Canada bowed out at the group stage for the first time since 2011 and with some regret after having needed only a draw to advance.
There was no need for Kerr to be Australia's saviour and the striker can rest her injured calf for a week before the co-hosts' next clash in the last 16, most likely against Denmark.
Australia topped Group B on six points, one ahead of Nigeria, who also advanced after a 0-0 draw against Ireland.
Canada's talismanic captain Christine Sinclair started on the pitch but bowed out of her sixth and final World Cup in disappointment at halftime when coach Bev Priestman triggered a raft of substitutes.
With their tournament on a knife-edge after the 3-2 shock by Nigeria, Australia played with courage and were quickly rewarded when a Steph Catley cross found Raso in the box.
She drilled a low shot inside the far post to put Australia in front. Although an offside flag went up, the goal was confirmed by VAR, sending the crowd into raptures.
They almost made it 2-0 minutes later, but Raso's shot was well saved by goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan.
Home fans were roaring again in the 34th minute as Fowler charged in to thump the ball in from close range, with Raso providing the cross.
VAR again intervened, this time cancelling the goal for offside, triggering a huge round of booing.
It scarcely mattered as five minutes later, Raso was celebrating her second strike after Sheridan failed to clear the ball from a set-piece.
Priestman made changes at halftime, with the retiring Sophie Schmidt coming on and blazing over the bar in the 56th minute.
But another Australian raid minutes later ended with Fowler slotting in a cross from Caitlin Foord to blow out the lead.
Worse was to come for Canada as Jessie Fleming clattered into Katrina Gorry just inside the area to concede a penalty, allowing Catley to blast the ball into the net for the coup de grace.