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Italy 1-0 Argentina: Supersub Girelli nets late winner
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PA Sport staff
Press Association
Cristiana Girelli, left, struck for Italy (Abbie Parr/AP)
Cristiana Girelli, left, struck for Italy (Abbie Parr/AP)

Cristiana Girelli came off the bench to head a late winner as Italy opened their World Cup campaign with a 1-0 victory over Argentina at Eden Park.

The 33-year-old forward headed past Vanina Correa in the 87th minute, four minutes after coming on for 16-year-old midfielder Giulia Dragoni – the oldest player in the squad replacing the youngest.

Having shown admirable resistance up to that point, Argentina were then denied an equaliser in stoppage time as Florencia Bonsegundo’s free-kick was saved by Francesca Durante.

It left Italy second in Group G behind Sweden, who beat South Africa 2-1 on Sunday and are Le Azzurre’s next opponents on Saturday in Wellington.

The Auckland contest’s first attempt on goal came from Argentina’s Mariana Larroquette, acrobatically sent wide in the opening minute, before Italy threatened with Valentina Giacinti hitting a strike into the arms of Correa.

Arianna Caruso then thought she had given the Italians the lead on the quarter-hour mark as her shot found the bottom corner via a slight deflection, but with the flag up for offside the effort was disallowed.

And it was the same again in the 42nd minute when Giacinti was played in and slotted past Correa, but had strayed too far forward.

The early stages of the second half saw Manuela Giugliano and Barbara Bonansea skew shots off-target from outside the box as Argentina continued to show good organisation at the back.

Giugliano subsequently lofted a free-kick onto the roof of the net, and at the other end, one from Bonsegundo was punched by Durante to Larroquette, who was unable to finish.

After Correa dealt with a Giada Greggi drive, the breakthrough then came with only a few minutes of normal time remaining as Lisa Boattin delivered the ball into the box for the recently-introduced Girelli to head home.

It then took a good save from Durante to secure the three points as she pushed away Bonsegundo’s free-kick in added time.

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