Connect with us


Australia, Spain win as women’s World Cup preparations heat up

Manchester City striker Hayley Raso scored twice as Australia beat the Czech Republic 4-0 Thursday to bank a fifth consecutive win as they ramp up preparations for the women’s World Cup on home soil this year.

All the goals came in the second half at Gosford, north of Sydney, with Chelsea star Sam Kerr bagging a 62nd for her country and veteran Clare Polkinghorne grabbing the fourth to celebrate becoming Australia’s most-capped player in her 152nd match.

Spain earlier kick-started the four-team Cup of Nations by beating Jamaica 3-0 in the same stadium to remain undefeated in five games since a revolt by a host of leading players left them short of star power.

Real Madrid’s Maite Oroz and Esther Gonzalez scored in the first half with Valencia midfielder Fiamma Benitez adding a third after the break.

All teams at the Cup of Nations bar the Czechs have qualified for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in July-August, with the current tournament crucial preparation for the showpiece event.

Both Australia and the Czechs created chances in the first half, but they went to the break scoreless.

The dam broke three minutes into the second half with Kerr feeding Raso whose shot took a deflection, before she pounced again with a header from a corner to make it 2-0.

Kerr was a constant threat and finally got on the scoresheet after a goalmouth scramble before Polkinghorne prodded home from close range.

“I love putting on this jersey and representing my country,” said Polkinghorne. “It’s just nice to be back home playing with this team and finishing our preparations for the World Cup.”

World number seven Spain’s victory came despite a festering dispute between coach Jorge Vilda and 15 top players who have been frozen out since September.

They had complained about issues within the national team that affected their “emotional and personal state” — reportedly the locker-room atmosphere and Vilda’s training methods. 

None have featured since the Spanish FA backed the coach, with their places at the World Cup under threat if the differences cannot be resolved.

Despite this Spain are unbeaten in five games since the row exploded, showcasing the depth that makes them a serious World Cup contender.

They were also without injured two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, but dominated Jamaica.

The inevitable breakthrough came after 18 minutes as Oroz pounced on the rebound when Claudia Zornoza’s ferocious shot rattled the crossbar.

They doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time when Gonzalez side-footed past goalkeeper Becky Spencer and Benitez sealed the win 12 minutes from time with a long-range strike.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


World Cup News


More in Football