Co-hosts New Zealand opened the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup in stunning style against Norway as they won on the global stage for the first time.
On a memorable night in Auckland, the Football Ferns produced a huge upset after Hannah Wilkinson swept home Jacqui Hand’s cross in front of an ecstatic crowd of 42,137 at Eden Park – a record for a football match in New Zealand.
Even Ria Percival’s 89th-minute missed penalty, after a handball by Tuva Hansen, failed to dampen the celebrations.
Fans turned up in their tens of thousands to cheer their side who had failed to win any of their previous 15 World Cup games.
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They were rewarded when Wilkinson broke the deadlock in the 48th minute to spark joyous scenes in the stands.
Norway, the 1995 world champions, should have equalised soon after Wilkinson’s goal but Arsenal’s Frida Maanum poked a glorious chance wide.
New Zealand went toe to toe with their opponents and it required a diving save Aurora Mikalsen by to prevent Ali Riley from doubling the lead.
There was a minute’s silence before kick-off for the victims of a deadly shooting in Auckland earlier on Thursday.
Written by: Debby Eselebor
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