Zambia bid farewell to the Women’s World Cup on a high note, securing their first-ever tournament win with a 3-1 victory over Costa Rica in Hamilton.
After suffering back-to-back 5-0 defeats, Zambia wasted no time in making an impact, scoring their maiden Women’s World Cup goal just four minutes into the match. Lushomo Mweemba headed the ball into the net, giving Zambia an early lead. They further solidified their advantage when Barbra Banda calmly converted a penalty.
Costa Rica, whose hopes of advancing to the knockout stages had already been dashed after two losses, responded in the early stages of the second half when Melissa Herrera bundled the ball home from close range. However, Zambia secured the victory late in the game, with Racheal Kundananji finding the net from inside the area.
Zambia had failed to score in their first two group matches against Japan and Spain, but they quickly changed that in the Waikato Stadium when Avell Chitundu’s corner found the head of Mweemba.
In the 31st minute, Zambia extended their lead when Katherine Alvarado fouled Banda inside the penalty area. Banda stepped up and confidently slotted the spot-kick into the bottom left corner, not only giving her team a 2-0 lead at halftime but also marking the 1,000th goal in Women’s World Cup history.
Costa Rica fought back immediately after the break, as Maria Coto’s header from a corner caused confusion between Zambia’s keeper Catherine Musonda and Valeria Del Campo, allowing Herrera to tap the ball over the line.
Energized by the goal, Costa Rica pressed for an equalizer and thought they had earned a penalty when Musonda brought down Priscila Chinchilla inside the area. However, after a lengthy VAR review, Sheika Scott was deemed to be in an offside position during the build-up, and the penalty was denied.
Costa Rica continued their efforts and had an effort disallowed when Herrera scored from close range but was deemed offside, maintaining the scoreline at 2-1.
In stoppage time, Zambia sealed the victory as Banda set up Kundananji, who sprinted through on goal and calmly finished, completing a historic triumph and helping Zambia secure third place in Group C, finishing above Costa Rica.