Netherlands, runners-up four years ago, beat debutant Portugal 1-0

Choi Song-Ah (AFP) – The Netherlands, runners-up at the FIFA Women’s World Cup four years ago, held off Portugal, who were making their debut at the 2023 tournament, to claim three points in their first match at Australia-New Zealand.

The Netherlands, ranked ninth in the FIFA rankings, held on for a 1-0 win over Portugal, ranked 21st, after Stephanie van der Hraagt scored a 13th-minute opener in the first leg of their Group E match at Dunedin Stadium in New Zealand on Wednesday.

The Netherlands, who last reached the final at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France but had to settle for a best-ever runner-up finish after losing 0-2 to the ‘best in the world’ USA, began the tournament second in Group E (3 points – +1 goal difference).

Defending champions USA lead the group, having defeated Vietnam 3-0 in their first game the previous day.

Portugal, who are making their Women’s World Cup debut at this tournament, failed to score their first goal and earn a point and sit in third place in Group E (0 points, -1 goals for).

The Netherlands capitalised on a set-piece opportunity to take the lead just 13 minutes into the match.

Sherida Spitzer’s right-footed corner kick was headed in from the left side of the goal area by the 5-foot-9 defender Vanderhraagt after it had been deflected in front of goal.

The goal was initially disallowed on the play, with Holland’s Eilert pointed to as offside, but an on-field review by the assistant referee overturned the decision.

The Netherlands had an uneventful first half, recording seven shots, including three on target, and not allowing their opponents a single shot.

Portugal, led by star striker Jessica Silva, who has played for the likes of Olympique Lyonnais (France) and Kansas City (USA), looked to score their first goal of the tournament with occasional counter-attacks, but could not find the back of the net easily.

The only consolation for Portugal was that they had two shots on target, including their first on target in the 37th minute.

Sweden, the third-placed team at the last tournament, came from behind to beat South Africa 2-1 at the Regional Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand.

The third-ranked Swedes, whose 2003 runners-up finish is their best ever and who have finished third in three World Cups, including 2019 in France, snatched all three points with a late 45th-minute ‘theatre goal’.

South Africa (54th in the FIFA rankings), who made their first appearance at a World Cup since the previous tournament in 2019 and went home without a win in three matches (one goal scored and eight conceded), missed out on their first win and three points.

In an ‘underwater’ game played in torrential rain, South Africa struck first just three minutes into the second half.

Tembi Katlana’s right-footed shot from the left side of the penalty area was blocked by Musovik, but the loose ball fell to Hilda Magaia, who took a touch with her thigh and slotted the ball into the net to give the hosts the lead.

Magaia, who plays for Sejong Sports in the South Korean women’s professional football WK League, scored South Africa’s second goal at the 2019 World Cup after Katlana in their 1-3 group stage loss to Spain.온라인바카라

Sweden continued to dominate from there, with Fridolina Rolfe equalising in the 20th minute following a cross from the right flank.

With the draw looking increasingly unlikely in the closing stages of the match, it was a header from long-standing centre-back Amanda Ilestedt from Kosovare Aslani’s cross in the 45th minute from a corner that sealed the game.

South Korean referee Kim Yoo-jung was the standby for the match.

Kim, who won the 2019 Football Association Women’s Referee of the Year award, was making her first appearance at a Women’s World Cup.

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