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Women’s World Cup: Historic Victory for Football Ferns in Norway opener

The New Zealand Football Ferns secured their first-ever victory at the Women’s World Cup, stunning Norway with a 1-0 win in a captivating opening match at Eden Park.

200723 KAI SCHWOERER Hannah Wilkinson of New Zealand C and her team mates celebrate their win in the FIFA Women s World Cup Group A match between New Zealand and Norway at Eden Park on July 20, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. 200723-CPL-NZLvNOR-160

In an electrifying opening match at the Women’s World Cup, the Football Ferns of New Zealand scripted history by defeating Norway with a stunning 1-0 victory at Eden Park. With a goal from Hannah Wilkinson just two minutes into the second half, the Ferns secured their first-ever win at the global showpiece, setting the stage for an enthralling tournament.

The atmosphere at Eden Park was nothing short of spectacular, with 40,000 passionate fans filling the stadium to the brim. The crowd’s energy was palpable as the Ferns took to the field on home soil.

Positive first 15 from New Zealand

New Zealand made their intentions clear right from the kickoff, dominating the opening 15 minutes with an impressive display of possession and territorial advantage. However, they couldn’t find the back of the net during this period of early dominance. Hannah Wilkinson and Malia Steinmetz proved to be instrumental in creating opportunities, causing havoc for the Norwegian defense.

The Norwegians gradually found their footing and began to push back. They mustered their first shot on goal after 20 minutes, with Caroline Graham Hansen attempting to find the target but sending the ball over the bar.

Wilkinson, relentless in her pursuit of a goal, had another chance to break the deadlock as she rose high to meet a long ball but was thwarted by a brilliant save from Norway’s goalkeeper, Aurora Mikalsen.

“I’m so proud, we have been fighting for this for so long.” – Adi Riley

The pivotal moment of the match arrived early in the second half when Hannah Wilkinson capitalized on a well-executed team move and found the back of the net, sending the stadium into euphoria. The Football Ferns’ captain, Ali Riley, struggled to hold back tears of joy, expressing her immense pride in the team’s achievement. “I’m so, so proud,” said Riley, “we have been fighting for this for so long. We have had a clear goal to inspire young girls around the country, anything is possible.”

New Zealand’s coach, Jitka Klimkova, was full of praise for her players’ exceptional performance. She commended the team’s unity, resilience, and dedication, hailing them as an amazing group of people who fully deserved the victory. “Such an amazing group of people, we did it, very proud, what a start. It’s still emotional, sport is about wins and losses, and today this group of people deserved to win.”

New Zealand football history created

The match reached its thrilling climax as Norway intensified their efforts to find an equalizer. The Ferns’ defense, however, held firm, weathering the storm and denying Norway any clear-cut opportunities. Rebekah Stott, in particular, made a crucial save in the box to keep Norway at bay.

The record-breaking crowd of 42,137 erupted into deafening cheers at the end of the game, celebrating the momentous victory of the Football Ferns. Coach Klimkova was overcome with emotion, her face buried in her hands as her players celebrated the hard-fought triumph.

This unforgettable win will undoubtedly go down as one of the most memorable moments in New Zealand’s footballing history. The Football Ferns have set the bar high with their incredible performance, proving that they are a force to be reckoned with in the tournament. They face the Philippines on Tuesday July 25th in their second game to try and impose themselves on their group and dream of potential qualification.

18+ | Please play responsibly | Terms and Conditions apply | Commercial Content