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Hosts Australia, New Zealand win 2023 Women's World Cup openers

Hannah Wilkinson scored in the 48th minute to beat Norway and give New Zealand its first-ever World Cup victory Thursday in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA-EFE
Hannah Wilkinson scored in the 48th minute to beat Norway and give New Zealand its first-ever World Cup victory Thursday in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA-EFE

July 20 (UPI) -- Hannah Wilkinson led New Zealand to a 1-0 upset of Norway in the first game of the Women's World Cup on Thursday in Auckland, New Zealand. Fellow host country Australia won its opener 1-0 over Ireland.

Wilkinson scored in the 48th minute to spark No. 26 New Zealand's upset of No. 12 Norway at Eden Park.

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Thursday's result gave New Zealand its first-ever World Cup victory. New Zealand was 0-12-3 in 15 previous Women's World Cup appearances, dating to 1991. The New Zealand men's team is 0-3-3 in two World Cup appearances, dating to 1982.

"We knew we had the nation behind us," Wilkinson told reporters. "We really felt the support of New Zealand. I felt that made such a big difference."

Norway missed several chances throughout the first half of the 2023 tournament opener.

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Forward Jacqui Hand then took off on a curling run about 5 yards into Norway territory. She ran onto a feed and dribbled up the right flank, slicing a pass through the box.

Wilkinson ran between two defenders and finished the play with a one-touch rip into the right side of the net, beating Norway goalie Aurora Mikalsen.

Norway midfielder Frida Maanum missed a shot just past the left post about 10 minutes later.

Mikalsen then made a spectacular diving save on a deep shot from Indiah-Paige Riley in the 63rd minute.

Norway and New Zealand continued to attack the goals, but could not finish down the stretch. One of those shots, taken by Norway left back Tuva Hansen, hit the cross bar in the 81st minute.

New Zealand was given a penalty kick in the 89th minute because of a Norway hand ball. Midfielder Ria Percival also hit that attempt off the crossbar.

New Zealand will face the No. 46 Philippines in their next Group A match at 1:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday at Sky Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. Norway will face No. 20 Switzerland at 4 a.m. Tuesday at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand.

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Later Thursday, left back Stephanie Catley converted a penalty kick in the 52nd minute for the only score of No. 10 Australia's 1-0 win over No. 22 Ireland.

Australia threatened the Ireland net throughout that Group B match. The Aussies finally broke the deadlock when they were awarded a penalty kick because of a foul in the box in the 51st minute.

Catley then took a breathe, ran up to the penalty mark and blasted a shot into the left side of the net, beating Ireland goalie Courtney Brosnan, who dove to the other side of the goal.

Ireland attempted several corner kicks later and a free kick in the second half, but couldn't beat Australia goalie Mackenzie Arnold for an equalizer.

Australia will face No. 40 Nigeria in another Group B match at 6 a.m. Thursday at Suncorp Stadium in Milton, Australia. Ireland will face No. 7 Canada at 8 a.m. Wednesday at HBF Park in Perth, Australia.

Nigeria will face Canada in another Group B match at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Melbourne. The game will air on Fox.

Three more Women's World Cup games will take place Friday. The top-ranked United States will start its run against No. 32 Vietnam at 9 p.m. Friday at Eden Park. That Group E game also will air on Fox.

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The group stage for the 32-team tournament will run through Aug. 3. The Round of 16 will be held Aug. 5 to 8. The quarterfinals will be Aug. 10 to 12. The semifinals will be Aug. 15 and 16, with the final set for Aug. 19.

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