FIFA Women’s World Cup: New Zealand beat group favourites

New Zealand's matchwinner against Norway, Hannah Wilkinson
Hannah Wilkinson (New Zealand) celebrates after scoring against Norway. (Ane Frosaker / SPP)

FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 kicked off with New Zealand defeating Norway before Australia also beat Republic of Ireland by a single goal.

Australia  Republic of Ireland Women Group B

New Zealand had the better of the first half in front of the nation’s record crowd of over 42,000 but it took a Rebekah Stott block to prevent Aga Hegerberg from hitting the target.

A swift move a couple of minutes after the interval brought the opening goal of the tournament, as Jacqui Hand’s cross was hit home by Hannah Wilkinson.

Frida Maanum put a great chance wide for Norway under pressure from Ali Riley, while Paige Riley forced Aurora Mikalsen into a tip over the bar.

FIFA Womens World Cup 2023 - New Zealand v Norway
Frida Maanum (18 Norway) tackles Betsy Hassett (12 New Zealand). (Ane Frosaker / SPP)

Victoria Esson preserved the lead when tipping Tuva Hansen’s shot onto the bar, the co-hosts then awarded an 88th-minute penalty for handball but Ria Percival hit the woodwork.

Nine minutes of stoppage-time were added, in which Guro Reiten passed up the chance to level.

Australia v Ireland: Group B - FIFA Women's World Cup
Steph Catley of Australia celebrates her penalty goal. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

There were 75,784 fans in Sydney’s Stadium Australia to see the Matildas edge Republic of Ireland by the only goal of the game.

There was little in the way of first-half goal-scoring opportunities, with Hayley Raso putting a header wide and Katrina Gorry’s 35-yard strike gathered by Courtney Brosnan.

Australia got the breakthrough five minutes into the second half, Marissa Sheva conceding a penalty for pushing Raso over and Steph Catley burying the spot kick.

Ireland forced a number of corners in the latter stages, Mackenzie Arnold dealing with the deliveries.

Niamh Fahey and Louise Quinn blocked efforts to keep Irish hopes alive, before another push for the equaliser forced Arnold to tip a free-kick over and the resulting corner away.

In the dying seconds, McCabe had a shot saved and Louise Quinn headed the flag-kick wide.

FIFA Womens World Cup 2023 - Australia v Republic of Ireland
Hayley Raso (Australia) and Katie McCabe (Republic of Ireland). (Noe Llamas / MB Media / SPP)

Fixtures for Friday 21 July (UK times)

3:30am – Group B – Nigeria v Canada (live on BBC Two/BBC iPlayer/BBC Sport Website)
6am – Group A – Philippines v Switzerland (live on ITV1/STV/ITVX/STV Player)
8:30am – Group C – Spain v Costa Rica (live on BBC Two/BBC iPlayer/BBC Sport Website)

SWF appoint Gillian Wood as Club & Competitions Coordinator

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