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New Zealand 1-0 Norway: Wilkinson gives co-hosts dream start
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Reuben Rosso-Powell
Press Association
New Zealand's Hannah Wilkinson celebrates after scoring the winner
New Zealand's Hannah Wilkinson celebrates after scoring the winner

Co-hosts New Zealand opened their World Cup campaign in style as Hannah Wilkinson's second-half goal secured a 1-0 win over star-studded Norway.

The home side deservedly took all three points to set early the pace in Group A and ensure the tournament got off to an exciting start. 

Skipper Ali Riley said: "I am so, so proud. We have been fighting for this for so long. 

"We had a clear goal to inspire young girls, young people around this country and the world. I really think we did that. Anything is possible.

"There were a lot of doubters because of the results we had but we believed, we believed in ourselves this entire game. 

"We showed it and we played with confidence. This is what dreams are made of."

Both sides jostled for early advantage in a competitive opening spell that saw the Norwegians forge an 18th-minute chance for Frida Maanum. 

But the midfielder failed to keep her effort from sailing over the crossbar as the game began to take shape. 

It was the hosts who began to dominate as they looked to test a Norway defence that endured a dismal Euro 2022 campaign, with marauding runs from Malia Steinmetz and balls in behind testing Chelsea's Maren Mjelde. 

New Zealand, inspired by the Eden Park crowd, refused to allow their opponents to take the lead against the run of play when Rebekah Stott made a heroic goal-saving tackle to deny the former world champions just before the break.

The Football Ferns started where they left off after the interval and broke the deadlock three minutes into the second half when Jacqui Hand's low cross to Wilkinson was finished first time. 

New Zealand were awarded an 88th-minute penalty for handball after a VAR check but Ria Percival hit the woodwork to set up a tense finish. 

However, Jitka Klimkova’s side managed to hold their nerve during nine added minutes.


Women's World CupNorwayNorway WNew ZealandNew Zealand W
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