Hosts New Zealand claim ‘first ever win’ with 1-0 victory over Norway

Ahn Hong-seok (AFP) – Co-hosts New Zealand claimed their first-ever World Cup victory at the expense of traditional powerhouse Norway in the opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia-New Zealand 2023.

The All Blacks held on to a Hannah Wilkinson goal three minutes into the second half to defeat Norway 1-0 in their opening Group A match at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday.

New Zealand, who had failed to win a single game in their previous five World Cup appearances (three draws and 12 defeats) and had always suffered group stage exits, enjoyed the thrill of their first ever World Cup victory on home soil.

In nine Women’s World Cups, the host nation has never failed to make it past the group stage.

Norway, winners of the 1995 tournament in Sweden and home to the inaugural 2018 Women’s Ballon d’Or winner, striker Ada Hegerberg, were the victims of an upset at the hands of the underdogs.

Norway are ranked 12th and New Zealand 26th in the FIFA rankings.

With the loss, Norway broke the jinx of losing their first World Cup match against the hosts.

It is the first time in 32 years that Norway has lost its first match at a World Cup since 1991, when it lost 0-4 to China in China.

Backed by the one-sided support of their home fans, who packed Eden Park to capacity, New Zealand harassed Norway with organised pressing in midfield and a high level of physicality.

Norway, who struggled to get their attack going, didn’t start to create anything close to a goal until late in the first half.

Norway were disappointed in the 36th minute when Tuva Hansen’s cool run from the right back line was followed by a ground ball cross which Hegerberg tried to connect with a non-stop shot but was denied by a tenacious defence.

New Zealand did not stand still either. In the 44th minute, Wilkinson broke through to the right side of the goal area, only to have her shot blocked by a Norwegian defender.

At the start of the second half, the promised ‘lightspeed counter-attack’ was unleashed and New Zealand took the lead.

In the third minute of the second half, Jackie Hand delivered a ground ball cross from the right, which was met by the onrushing Wilkinson, who finished with a non-stop right-footed shot that rattled the net.

Norway pushed forward in search of an equaliser but were unable to find it in the 36th minute, with Hansen’s long-range shot from the left side of the penalty area hitting the crossbar.바카라사이트

New Zealand earned a valuable penalty corner when Malia Steinmetz drew a handball foul on Hansen inside the penalty area, but kicker Leah Percival hit the post in the 45th minute to deny the hosts any further points.

The opening ceremony prior to the match featured performances by indigenous singers and dancers, including Maori, who showed off their cultural pride.

Two female singers, Malat from Australia and Benny from New Zealand, sang “Do it Again,” the official theme song of the tournament.

Prior to the match, players and spectators from both teams observed a moment of silence in honour of the victims of the shooting in Auckland earlier in the day.

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