Superb Spain earn comfortable win over Costa Rica

 

Alba Redondo of Spain and Valeria Del Campo of Costa Rica embrace after the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Group C match between Spain and Costa Rica at Wellington Regional Stadium on July 21, 2023 in Wellington / Te Whanganui-a-Tara, New Zealand. 

Spain cruised to victory in their Women’s World Cup opener as they dominated Costa Rica in Wellington.

Valeria del Campo scored an own goal to put Spain ahead, before Aitana Bonmati curled in a second two minutes later.

Esther Gonzalez added a third after a header against the crossbar by Jennifer Hermoso, who then had a penalty saved by Daniela Solera.

Olga Carmona hit the bar and Solera made a number of fine saves to restrict Spain to three goals.

The Spanish team’s dominance was shown in the match stats, as they had 46 attempts at goal, including 12 on target, with Costa Rica, ranked 36th in the world, only having one shot, which went wide.

Spain also had 80% possession and 22 corners compared with just one from their opponents.

For Spain, looking to advance past the last-16 phase for the first time, it was the perfect start to their Group C campaign after a disrupted build-up to the tournament.

In September, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) claimed 15 members of its national team, unhappy with training methods and match preparation, said they would resign if manager Jorge Vilda did not step down.

The federation backed Vilda and he only then named three of those 15 players – Barcelona’s Mariona Caldentey, Bonmati and Ona Batlle – in the World Cup squad.

Costa Rica had never won a match at a Women’s World Cup, but had drawn 1-1 in their opener against Spain in 2015 – the only other tournament they had qualified for.

But there never looked like being a repeat as Spain dominated.

Bonmati, Gonzalez, Ivana Andres and Salma Paralluelo all missed chances before Del Campo accidentally converted Gonzalez’s cross from the left.

Spain scored three times in a seven-minute spell and had a great opportunity for a fourth but Hermoso’s poor penalty was pushed away by Solera.

Only an inspired performance from Solera kept the scoreline respectable as she made excellent saves to deny Paralluelo, Carmona and Ivana Andres.

Midfielder Alexia Putellas, who won the Ballon d’Or for being the best player in the world in 2021 and 2022, was among the Spain substitutes and played the last 13 minutes as she recovers from injury.

She sustained a serious knee injury just before last year’s Women’s European Championship and has not played a full match since.

Spain will be looking for another big win in their next match on 26 July as they face Zambia, at 77th the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, with Costa Rica facing 2011 winners and 2015 runners-up Japan.

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