The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, the biggest in the history of the tournament, got underway with a bang at Eden Park in Auckland on July 20, Thursday. Hannah Wilkinson of New Zealand scored the first goal of the quadrennial event against Norway, to the rocking reception of home fans in the stadium.
Notably, the first half of the contest between New Zealand and Norway was quite evenly contested, with both the teams not creating any real chances to break the deadlock. But the hosts started the second half in some style as Jacqui Hand broke away from the last line of defence on the right-hand side. She placed the cross in the box with sheer perfection for Hannah Wilkinson, who tapped it home in the 48th minute to give the Football Ferns the lead at Eden Park.
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As the second half rolled along in Auckland, Norway created a few problems in the defence for New Zealand, but they were not able to get the elusive goal. Tuva Hensen came closest to scoring with a long-range effort in the 81st minute, but she only managed to hit the woodwork.
In the 86th minute, Tuva Hensen conceded a penalty to the Football Ferns, after stopping a cross into the box with her arm. Ria Percival took the penalty for the hosts to put the match beyond the reach of Norway, but she could only strike the upright.
The injury time of nine minutes was the longest for New Zealand to hold on to their one-goal lead. Norway did give them a scare or two in the closing stages, but the hosts registered a 1-0 win to kick-start their FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 campaign in a perfect manner at Eden Park. This was also the first-ever victory for New Zealand in the history of the tournament.