FIFAWWC Match Day One Wrap - Host nation New Zealand creates history

After 10 weeks of building up the hype with Edge of the Crowd's 70-Day Countdown to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the action finally got underway with both hosts, the Football Ferns of New Zealand kicked off the biggest women’s sporting tournament in history. How did it all unfold? Read on to find out.

New Zealand vs Norway

A day that started with tragedy ended in jubilation for New Zealand. After the nation woke up to the news of a mass shooting, and later the deaths of two people resulting from it, the mood was sombre in the build-up to the Women’s World Cup opener. The sombre mood continued during a low-key opening ceremony and a moment's silence to remember the victims of the fresh tragedy that was at the front of everyone's mind.

When the football finally started, the Football Ferns showed that pre-tournament form counted for nothing, as the unlikely hosts took it to a lacklustre Norwegian side. The contest did not reflect that chasm that exists between the two teams in their rankings, with New Zealand dominating the contest and creating the biggest chances of the first half. 

The match followed the same pattern in the second half, with New Zealand experiencing a lot of joy on the right wing, and it was a move down the right started by goalkeeper Victoria Esson and finished by Hannah Wilkinson that gave New Zealand the lead and sent a nation into euphoria.

As the time ticked on, everyone was waiting for a Norway comeback that just did not eventuate. Ria Percival missed a penalty in the 88th minute, but it didn’t matter as New Zealand recorded their first-ever World Cup victory at their 16th attempt in front of 42,137 fans, the largest-ever crowd for a football match in New Zealand. History has been made and the sky is the limit for Jitka Klimková’s charges, whilst it is back to the drawing board for a flat and ultimately disappointing Norway.

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“I think there’ve been a lot of doubters because of the results we’ve had but we’ve believed," said New Zealand captain Ali Riley said post match.

“We believed in ourselves this entire game. We believed in ourselves from the very beginning and we showed it. We played with confidence and with poise.”

PLAYER OF THE MATCH: HANNAH WILKINSON (NZ) - It has to be. Scored the goal that gave her nation its first-ever World Cup victory.

Fellow co-hosts Australia also kicked off its FIFA Women's World Cup campaign on home soil in front of a 75,000-plus crowd in Sydney against the Republic of Ireland. A Steph Catley penalty was the match's only goal, thus seeing the Matildas pick up the three points in a 1-0 victory.

You can read a more comprehensive recap of Australia's win over the Republic of Ireland, here.

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