With a 1-0 victory over Norway in Auckland’s Eden Park, New Zealand got the FIFA Women’s World Cup began to a scorching start.

Hannah Wilkinson’s goal in the 48th minute was sufficient to capture the three points and excite the audience in the Football Ferns’ first-ever World Cup victory.

Ria Percival of New Zealand squandered a late opportunity to increase her team’s lead when her penalty kick in the 88th minute bounced against the wall.

After losing 8-0 to eventual tournament winners England in the group round of the 2022 European Championship, Hege Riise’s Norwegian team was eager to make amends.

The first European party to make contact was Norway.

Preview: Australia v Republic of Ireland

Co-hosts Australia will face off against the Republic of Ireland at Sydney’s Stadium Australia on Thursday afternoon.

Australia, who have emerged as one of the tournament favourites, are hoping to get their World Cup campaign off to a strong start in front of what is expected to be a record-breaking crowd of around 83,000.

But the Matildas were dealt a blow when star skipper Sam Kerr was ruled out of the tie against the Republic of Ireland with a calf injury just an hour before kick-off.

Her teammates had been hoping to rely on her sharp eye for goal with Canada and Nigeria making up the ‘group of death’.

Ireland, on the other hand, will be hoping to make a positive start to what is the country’s first Women’s World Cup fixture.

Despite the lack of big-stage experience, Vera Pauw’s side will take confidence from experienced midfielder Denise O’Sullivan being declared fit for action after suffering a knock in a friendly tie against Colombia last week.

The quadrennial tournament will run until 11 August, featuring 32 nations for the first time, having been expanded from 24 teams. A total of 64 matches will take place throughout the month at ten different venues across nine cities.

By Larry

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