The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup opened in dramatic fashion Thursday, with cohost New Zealand picking up the first win of the tournament — also the team’s first World Cup win ever — against Norway in front of a sellout crowd at Auckland’s Eden Park stadium.
The lone goal of the match belonged to forward Hannah Wilkinson, who scored from close range early in the second half.
The “World Cup Now” crew — Jimmy Conrad, Leslie Osborne and Melissa Ortiz — broke down New Zealand’s victory and shared their opinions on who deserved the most credit for the win.
Conrad: “I’m gonna give a shout-out to Jitka Klimková, the coach of New Zealand. She got appointed in 2021; she’s the first woman coach of the New Zealand women’s national team, and for her to have this type of impact I think is really important. … I’m very curious what she said to her group because they were ready. … Every single player was ready to put a shift in and to suffer for each other. I think that’s so important, and they stuck to their game plan.”
Osborne: “Hannah Wilkinson, this is a player who had two World Cup goals going into this game. She now has three. … She stepped up today, and it wasn’t a one-off. She was all over the pitch tonight. She was dangerous; she was tracking balls down; she was all over the place. I don’t think Norway figured out how to defend her.”
Ortiz: “I’m just gonna straight up say Ali Riley because … I absolutely saw her being so dominant defensively and in offensive transitions. You saw her get high on the wing to receive the balls and be that outlet to make those fast transitions going forward, or at least be that type of support — whether it was to the midfielder or to the center back.”
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