New Zealand Shock Norway in 2023 Women’s World Cup Opener
Hosts New Zealand pulled off an incredible and shocking win over Norway in the opening game of the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Hannah Wilkinson’s goal shortly after the break was enough for the Football Ferns to beat one of the tournament favourites in Auckland.
New Zealand, who are co-hosting the tournament with Australia, had never won a World Cup match before, but easily outclassed a Norwegian side featuring some of the finest players in the game including Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg.
Ahead of the game, a moment of silence was held after a shooting in Auckland’s central business district on Thursday morning left three people dead.
The match started energetically, with both sides throwing caution to the wind, though there was a lack of meaningful chances with no shots on target in the first-half.
Wilkinson Breaks the Deadlock
The intensity didn’t let up after the break, with New Zealand making the breakthrough less than three minutes into the second-half after a lovely move lead to Jacqui Hand setting up Wilkinson for a close range finish.
Norway, aiming to bounce back following their humiliating 8-0 exit from last summer’s Euros at the hands of England, were expected to comfortably beat their opponents. But they looked utterly uninspired throughout, with their closest chance coming just before the hour when Frida Maanum missed a sitter from just a few yards out.
New Zealand came close to doubling their lead several times, most notably when Aurora Mikalsen pulled off a great save to deny Indiah-Paige Riley’s shot from the edge of the box that was heading for the top left corner.
Percival Misses Penalty
And in the dying minutes of the 90, the hosts were given a great chance to seal the game for good when VAR awarded them a penalty for a handball, only for Ria Percival to fire the spot-kick against the crossbar.
And they were nearly made to pay when Norway worked the ball into the box in the eighth minute of injury time, only for Guro Reiten to squander yet another chance from just a few yards out.
New Zealand pulled off an incredible and shocking win over Norway in the opening game of the 2023 Women’s World Cup. The Football Ferns had never won a World Cup match before, but easily outclassed a Norwegian side featuring some of the finest players in the game including Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg.
Hannah Wilkinson’s goal shortly after the break was enough for New Zealand to secure their first ever World Cup victory and set them on their way to an impressive tournament.
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