2023 Women's World Cup Wrap - Match Day 1
Home nations Australia and New Zealand both got their World Cup campaigns off to a winning start on Match Day 1.
New Zealand has sprung the first upset of the World Cup with an impressive 1-nil win over the 12th ranked, Norway.
Melbourne City’s Hannah Wilkinson broke the deadlock for New Zealand just after half time as the Kiwis caught the former World Champions napping.
A sweeping move down the right by full-back Jacqui Hand caught out the Norwegian defence, before playing a perfectly timed ball into the path of Wilkinson who thumped home, sending the 45,000 pro-kiwi crowd into raptures.
New Zealand’s Ria Percival missed a late chance to seal the match from the penalty spot, after it was ruled that Norwegian defender, Caroline Graham Hansen had handled the ball inside the penalty area. However, Percival sent the ball cannoning into the crossbar. New Zealand achieving their first ever world cup win and will now look forward to their clash against Phillipines on Tuesday.
It was tough going for fellow co-hosts Australia as they scraped past a plucky Republic of Ireland side in front of a record crowd at Homebush.
The Matildas went into the match without captain Sam Kerr as shock rang through the football world when it was revealed just an hour prior to kick off that Kerr would miss two matches due to a calf injury.
Following a cagey first half, it took a Steph Catley penalty to split the teams with the Matildas surviving a late rally by the Irish to hang on for a 1-nil win. The Matildas will now look forward to facing Nigeria next Thursday.
Match Day 2 will see the Group B clash between Nigeria and Canada in Melbourne.
Nigerian Forward Asisat Oshoala will be one of the players to look out for after netting 21 times last season for Barcelona at club level. For Canada, they’ll be relying on midfielder Jessie Fleming’s partnership with veteran Christine Sinclair to ensure the Olympic champions can go deep in the tournament. Later in the day, Philippines take on Switzerland in Dunedin as part of Group B. The 46th-ranked Filapinas, led by Australian coach Alen Stajcic will be making their World Cup debut and will take some confidence into the tournament having recorded just one loss in their last six outings.
Phillipines' opponents Switzerland will be featuring for the second time after reaching the round of 16 in 2015. Recently appointed coach Inka Grings will be relying on captain Lia Walti to pull the strings in the midfield, although questions remain on whether Grings has had enough time to put her own mark on the team. Finally, Spain will take on Costa Rica in Wellington as part of Group C. A third successive world campaign for Spain will be headlined by back-to-back Ballon D’or winner Alexis Putellas who recently returned to international football following an ACL injury. Questions remain whether Spain will have the cover for key missing players following an internal dispute with coach Jorge Vilda and the Spanish Football Federation over conditions. Spain’s opponents, Costa Rica aren’t without their own internal troubles after key players were left out by manager Amelia Valverde.