In a historic moment for New Zealand’s national soccer team, the women’s squad achieved their first-ever victory at a World Cup competition by stunning heavily favored Norway with a 1-0 win in the opening match of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Before the match commenced, a moment of silence was observed to honor the two people who lost their lives, and the five others who were injured, including a police officer, in a shooting incident that occurred just miles away from Eden Park, the venue for the tournament’s opening game in Auckland.

Addressing concerns about the incident, New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins reassured that the shooting was not perceived as a national security risk or a threat to the World Cup competition. FIFA organizers confirmed that the tournament would proceed as planned.

In the highly anticipated Group A match between New Zealand (ranked No. 26) and Norway (ranked No. 12), a record-breaking crowd of over 42,100 spectators, the largest for any soccer match in New Zealand’s history (men’s or women’s), witnessed the game unfold.

The match remained deadlocked until the 48th minute when New Zealand’s Hannah Wilkinson scored a close-range goal, capitalizing on a cross from her teammate Jacqui Hand. Near the end of regulation time, New Zealand had a chance to extend their lead with a penalty kick, but Ria Percival’s shot hit the crossbar, leaving the score at 1-0.

Later that day, co-host Australia took on Ireland in Sydney for Group B’s opening match. Over the next month, a total of 32 teams will compete in more than 60 matches across 10 venues in Australia and New Zealand.

While Australia boasts more international success in football, New Zealand has traditionally been known as a rugby nation and had never won a game in the World Cup, whether men’s or women’s, until this memorable victory.

The reigning champions, the U.S. Women’s National Team, ranked No. 1, will begin their campaign against Vietnam in New Zealand. With key players like Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, and Julie Ertz returning from the 2019 championship-winning squad, the U.S. team is highly favored to excel once again in the tournament.

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