New Zealand women’s football team has produced one of the greatest upsets in the World Cup when they stunned European heavyweights Norway in their World Cup opener. Hannah Wilkinson was on target for the hosts when she scored from a Jacqui Hand’s cross, as the home crowd erupted with joy in the first game.
Wilkinson wins it for Ferns
New Zealand has staged one of the greatest spectacles in the history of world football when they defeated Norway in the World Cup opening fixture as Hannah Wilkinson have etched her name in the history books. It was on the 48th minute that they scripted history, in front of nearly 42,000 football fans in Auckland, a record for a football game. It was their first win in the coveted tournament, as they have seen the face of defeat in their previous 15 outings. To cheer for the Football Ferns, as the National Team is called by supporters, tens to thousands of fans turned up to cheer for their favorite team who is playing in one of the biggest sporting events of the world.
Fans rewarded with history
As the Ferns fans and supporters turned up in thousands to cheer their team, they were rewarded with a sweet piece of history as Wilkinson was instrumental in breaking the deadlock in the game, against the mighty Norwegians. Even Percival’s miss from the spot kick could not dampen the spirit in the stands as people were elated to see their team get over the line.
Although Norway got the easiest opportunity to equalize but it was Arsenal star Frida Maanum who had blasted a shot agonizingly wide, thus destroying their chance to go toe-to-toe with the hosts. New Zealand have waited for this moment over the years and looked for an outright chance when they were named co-hosts with Australia in 2020. Legends like Percival and Riley, whose shot was blocked by a tantalizing save from the Scandinavian keeper Mikalsen, could not hold back their tears during national anthems as they were playing in their fifth World Cup, being the torchbearers of Kiwi Football over the past decade.
Norway was unlucky in their opening game as was judged by several football pundits, as manager Hege Riise was relishing the opportunity of playing in front of a partisan home crowd. But, her team ended up on the losing side as she said her team woke up on the news of a deadly Auckland shooting, which shook all the participating nations in the tournament, as she was heard saying, “It hasn’t affected us in how we performed in the game. We didn’t get any momentum at all.”
They will face a sturdy Switzerland side in the next fixture, in Hamilton, to avoid an early exit from the tournament, as they were blanked 0-8 in the European championships last year, before being blanked by Austria.