Classy Spain send Women’s World Cup warning with 3-0 drubbing of Costa Rica


Rampant Spain issued a Women’s World Cup warning on Friday with a 3-0 win over Costa Rica while Switzerland ensured there would be no fairytale debut for the Philippines.

Spain’s build-up to the tournament in Australia and New Zealand was clouded by a simmering row involving a group of 15 players who refused to feature under coach Jorge Vilda.

Three eventually returned to the squad for the World Cup and one of them, Aitana Bonmati, was on the scoresheet in Wellington as La Roja launched wave after wave of attacks at the overwhelmed Costa Rican defence.

An own goal put Spain on their way and after Bonmati netted, Esther Gonzalez made it three in a ruthless six-minute first-half spell to kill off Costa Rica in double-quick time.

In truth Spain should have won by many more — Jennifer Hermoso fluffed a first-half penalty — and did not miss their two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas.

Putellas started as a substitute, but ominously for Spain’s rivals for the title, came off the bench for the last 13 minutes, allaying fears about a possible injury. She only returned in April from a serious knee injury.

This World Cup is just two days and five games in, but already there has been a penalty in every game.

Saturday’s matches see the two favourites in action.

The United States launch their bid for an unprecedented third World Cup crown in a row against Vietnam in Auckland.

European champions England face another tournament minnow in debutants Haiti in Brisbane.

In other Saturday games, China face Denmark and Zambia are up against the 2011 champions Japan.

Megan Rapinoe may not be a first-choice starter for the United States these days but new co-captain Lindsey Horan is banking on the veteran superstar to play a key role nevertheless.

The 38-year-old Rapinoe, a central part of the USA sides that won the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, is at the tournament for the fourth and final time before retiring.

“She is just a different kind of player, she is so intelligent, the way she moves the ball and thinks about the game,” said Horan.

“To send her off on a high would be incredible.”