Both maintained their 100pc records in Group C with Japan defeating Csta Rica 2-0 and Spain easily beating Zambia 5-0. Coach Jorge Vilda’s Spanish team took top spot in the table on goal difference.

Costa Rica and Zambia are both already now eliminated with one game to play. The Irish Republic also collected their ticket home later after losing 2-1 to Olympic champions Canada in Group C.

Japan, world champions in 2011, owed victory to two goals in three first-half minutes from Hikaru Naomoto and Aoba Fujino.

Coach Futoshi Ikeda said: “We did what we needed to do and we did it well. We have prioritised winning points. The players came here with a serious goal in mind.”

Spain, who defeated Costa Rica 3-0 in their opening match, needed only nine minutes to take command against Zambia through Teresa Abelleira.

Jenni Hermoso marked her 100th international by extending the lead four minutes later. She also scored her 50th international goal in the second half after a VAR check. Spain’s other two goals came from Alba Redondo.

Barcelona midielder Alexia Putellas started her first match since a knee ligament injury last April which saw her miss the UEFA European finals in England.

Japan and Spain contest top spot in Group C on Monday. Spain need only a drew to stay No1.

Credit: AIPS Media