The first day of the Women’s World Cup saw both New Zealand and Australia play opening matches. With both host nations in action and two opening ceremonies, the tournament officially began! Let’s look back at the opening day!
Women’s World Cup Roundup Day 1
New Zealand secure shock upset over Norway
The opening game of this World Cup showcased a New Zealand side that has greatly underachieved in their World Cup history, and a Norway side that has world-class players and has won a championship way back in 1995. The two nations could not be more different in style of play. New Zealand is a collective unit, while Norway functions more individualistically. Despite this, pundits had picked Norway to win this game-handedly.
While it’s not shocking for pundits to be wrong, what was shocking was the start of the match. Many thought that Norway’s intensity would carry them past New Zealand. However, the beginning of the game was quite back-and-forth. New Zealand matched Norway’s intense play in the first 15 minutes and then kept the intense and urgent style of play alive after Norway backed off a bit. This carried over into the second half.
New Zealand came out of halftime on fire. After subduing a Norway attack, they hit a goal kick that looked almost rehearsed. A quick one-two saw the ball go wide right to Jacqueland Hand and she sprinted down the right flank to create an attack. Striker Hannah Wilkinson made a darting run into the box, and Hand found her run. Wilkinson smashed the ball into the net to give New Zealand the lead in the 48th minute.
After that, Norway tried to will their way to get a goal. They hit the post and crossbar on different occasions and New Zealand defended for their lives. Norway couldn’t get anything going in the final third and was lucky not to concede a second goal after Ria Percival smashed a penalty kick off of the Crossbar. The final whistle blew and we had the first upset of this World Cup; New Zealand took all three points.
Group A standings
- New Zealand – 3 pts | +1 GD
- Philippines – 0 pts | 0 GD
- Switzerland – 0 pts | 0 GD
- Norway – 0 pts | -1 GD
Australia edges out debutants Ireland
In the other host nation at this World Cup, the roles of the first game were flipped. Australia are hosts but is also a huge favorite to win Group B. Ireland are debutants, and are the underdog in almost every match that they will play at this World Cup. Australia loves to play together but had to do so without superstar captain, Sam Kerr. She will be out until Australia’s third group-stage match with a calf injury. Ireland loves to make games gritty, getting under their opponent’s skin and forcing mistakes. Both of these teams looked to play their game from the jump.
As the game began, it was clear that Australia was going to be on the front foot for most of the match. Ireland was focused on being organized to frustrate Australia. The tactic worked in the first half for Ireland. Australia was able to create chances, they created 13 shots on the night but only two shots were on target all game. When Ireland was able to hinder Australia’s attack, they looked to counter quickly Denise O’Sullivan and Katie McCabe. O’Sullivan was not afraid to get physical almost fighting her Australian opposition and earning a yellow card.
As the game progressed to the second half, Ireland’s constant defending and countering took its toll on the debutants. Australia kept attacking Ireland’s box, and in the 51st minute, they won a penalty kick. Hayley Raso made her move in the box and Marissa Sheva stumbled into her and took her down, a clear penalty, and Steph Catley made no mistake on her PK. She slotted home the chance, and Australia was up 1-0 with more than 40 minutes to go.
For those last 40 minutes, Ireland tried to deal with Australia’s dominance on the ball. The Irish could not win the ball and keep it to create a good look at goal very often. However, Ireland found one last chance in second-half stoppage time. A well-worked attack found the feet of Katie McCabe she was able to create some space and get a shot off that was destined to go in. Unluckily for her and Ireland, Australian Keeper Mackenzie Arnold was able to somehow stop the ball from going in. Australia took all three points against a fun-to-watch Ireland side.
Group B Standings
- Australia – 3 pts | +1 GD
- Canada – 0 pts | 0 GD
- Nigeria – 0 pts | 0 GD
- Irish – 0 pts | 0 GD
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Mandatory Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Cornaga & AP Photo/Rick Rycroft