New Zealand secured a historic 1-0 victory against Norway in the Women’s World Cup, marking their first-ever win in the tournament. On the same triumphant opening day for the co-hosts, Australia battled past Ireland with the same scoreline. Both matches attracted massive crowds, with over 42,000 spectators witnessing history at Auckland’s Eden Park, setting a New Zealand football record, and more than 75,000 fans packing Stadium Australia in Sydney.
The Women’s World Cup has expanded to include 32 teams, generating global interest in women’s football like never before. The event started on a somber note due to a tragic shooting incident in Auckland, where two people and the gunman lost their lives. Before both matches, a moment of silence was observed to remember the victims.
Hannah Wilkinson emerged as the hero for New Zealand’s Football Ferns, scoring a crucial goal three minutes after halftime to secure the precious victory against former champions Norway. The win marked New Zealand’s first in the World Cup after 16 attempts. The team’s coach, Jitka Klimkova, expressed her joy at the long-awaited moment and the unwavering support of the fans.
Despite the challenging weather conditions on a cold, wet, and windy evening, New Zealand dominated the match, and the margin of victory could have been greater had Ria Percival not missed a late penalty. The team now has a realistic chance of qualifying for the knockout stages, with Switzerland and the Philippines as their other opponents in Group A.
While New Zealand celebrated their triumph, Australia faced a setback as their captain, Sam Kerr, sustained a calf injury, causing her to miss at least the first two matches. Australia, one of the tournament favorites, managed a 1-0 victory against Ireland with a penalty from stand-in skipper Steph Catley.
The United States, led by Megan Rapinoe, are the favorites to win a record-extending fifth title, and they begin their title defense against Vietnam. England, another major contender, faces Haiti in their opening match.
Spain, also considered a favorite, is hopeful to have Alexia Putellas fit for their opener against Costa Rica, but her fitness will be carefully managed due to a recent knee injury. Spain’s preparations were marred by a player revolt against coach Jorge Vilda, but the team remains determined to perform well in the tournament.
Today’s matches include Olympic champions Canada facing Nigeria, with captain Christine Sinclair in high spirits. The Philippines, making their World Cup debut, will play against Switzerland in the other match of the day.