Hannah Wilkinson scored an amazing goal, helping New Zealand win a surprising victory against Norway in the first Women’s World Cup match.

Posted By: Sophia Andrew

Posted On: July 20, 2023

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In the 2023 Women’s World Cup, the first match was super exciting! New Zealand, one of the co-hosts, surprised everyone by defeating Norway 1-0 in Auckland. The winning goal was scored by Hannah Wilkinson shortly after half-time, and it was truly amazing!

Before this victory, New Zealand had struggled to win in World Cup games. In the past five women’s tournaments, they hadn’t won any matches, and the men’s team also didn’t win in their two World Cup appearances.

But this time, everything changed. The Football Ferns finally secured their first-ever World Cup victory, and it happened on their home ground at Eden Park, with over 40,000 enthusiastic fans cheering them on. It was an almost sold-out event and caused great celebration!

Even though Ria Percival missed a penalty late in the game due to a VAR decision, New Zealand managed to hold on and secure the win. The fans were overjoyed, and it was a memorable start to the Women’s World Cup with this surprising upset.

“I feel incredibly proud and happy! We’ve been working hard for a long time to achieve this. Our main aim was to inspire young girls in New Zealand and all over the world, and I believe we achieved that tonight. It shows that anything is possible,” said New Zealand’s captain, Ali Riley, with tears in her eyes, while talking to the BBC.

Coach Jitka Klimkova shared her thoughts too, saying that the win was well deserved and meant a lot, especially for three players who had been part of the previous World Cup teams that didn’t win any games. One of them is Ali Riley, our captain, who must be feeling really proud of this achievement!

“It was an amazing moment for me as a coach to see my players with tears of joy, celebrating with their families, friends, and fans,” Klimkova said happily. “I will always cherish this memory.”

Sadly, before the opening match of the World Cup, there was a terrible incident in Auckland. There was a rare shooting in the city center that caused great sadness and shock. The New Zealand Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, held a press conference and shared the sad news that three people, including the gunman, lost their lives, and several others got hurt.

Ali Riley, our team’s captain, also spoke about this tragedy. She said that in the morning, something really tragic happened, and they wanted to bring some positivity and happiness to the situation. They thought about the victims and the first responders who were so brave and made their country proud. They wanted to bring something amazing to uplift the spirits today.

Breaking the deadlock

New Zealand started the game with great enthusiasm, boosted by the cheering crowd. In the first half, they did a fantastic job of keeping Norway from scoring.

At the beginning of the match, New Zealand took the initiative and launched the first attack. Hannah Wilkinson broke free from the Norwegian defense. Later on, Norway also showed their attacking skills. Their star player, Ada Hegerberg, attempted a bicycle kick, but it narrowly missed the goal. Frida Maanum also had a chance but couldn’t direct her shot properly.

Right after halftime, New Zealand’s persistence paid off. Hannah Wilkinson scored the first goal of the game, beautifully finishing a well-coordinated team play that caught the Gresshoppene defense off guard.

After the game, Coach Klimkova shared that the team’s halftime talk played a big role in their victory.

She said, “We knew we were doing well, and we wanted to keep it up. We focused on things like keeping the ball, moving forward, and being strong in defense.”

They also discussed a few new strategies to use their playing spaces more effectively. In the second half, these adjustments helped them score the crucial goal.

Even though New Zealand was leading, the game was still very close. Norway had some difficulty getting the ball to their dangerous forwards, but they managed to create chances. At one point, New Zealand’s goalkeeper, Victoria Esson, made an excellent save, stopping Tuva Hansen’s powerful long-range shot from becoming a goal on the 80th minute.

New Zealand had a great opportunity to score another goal and almost win the game 10 minutes later. Norway gave away a penalty because of a handball, but unfortunately, Percival missed the shot. This kept the game intense and exciting, with nine extra minutes added on for injury time. Norway tried hard to equalize in the last moments of the match.

But in the end, the home team managed to hold on and not let Norway score. When the final whistle blew, everyone went crazy with happiness! The players ran onto the field, and the crowd erupted in joyous celebrations all around the stadium. It was a fantastic moment!

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