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  • Writer's picturePenny McNees

Riveting First World Cup Win for New Zealand against Norway

The opening game for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup ended in a shocker for Norway and national pride for New Zealand. This victory for the Football Ferns is their first ever World Cup win and they did it in front of 42,137 fans, a new record for a soccer game in New Zealand.

Historic Game Winner

Throughout the whole game, New Zealand dominated. The minute the kickoff whistle blew, it was clear the Football Ferns were not going to accept anything less than a win. They were hungry to win at home as co-hosts of the tournament. After a scoreless first half, New Zealand prevailed in the 48th minute when Hannah Wilkinson banged in the ball from Jacqui Hand. This goal for Wilkinson marked the achievement of scoring in three World Cups.

The first goal of the tournament, the first win at a World Cup, and a victory at home in front of the largest crowd for soccer in New Zealand history clearly meant everything to the team. The run onto the field at the final whistle was extremely emotion for players and all fans of the game. Capitain Ali Riley writes on her Instagram Story over an emotional photo of heself and her mom celerbrating post-game, “16 years. This is for the players who came before and all the people who never stopped believing.”

Relentless Fight, Even Through a Cramp

While Norway had their fair chances of scoring, New Zealand’s defense constantly stepped up at the very last minute to poke the ball away. Norway’s strongest chance came in the 81st minute when Tuva Hansen striked a rocket at New Zealand’s goal but the crossbar denied the equalizer.

What ended up hurting Norway a lot in the end is the 15 fouls called on them compared to five fouls called on New Zealand. In the 88th minute, a penalty kick was awarded to New Zealand after VAR ruled that there was a hand ball committed by Hansen. New Zealand veteran Ria Percival took the penalty kick but missed when the ball went wide and hit the post.

Norway put up a relentless fight until the very last minute. When Thea Bjelde got what looked like a painful cramp in the 92nd minute, Norway was not giving up any precious time. Caroline Graham Hansen rushed over, picked Bjelde up by the ankle and with Vilde Bøe Risa’s help, they ran and dumped a giggling Bjelde on the sideline to continue the game. A minute later, Bjelde was officially subbed off and Anja Sønstevold came on. However, despite Norway’s persistent efforts to get on the scoreboard, the game ultimately ended in New Zealand’s favor, 1-0.


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