Women’s football: Team GB women kicked off the home Olympics in winning fashion
Team GB’s Olympic campaign got off to a perfect start as they defeated New Zealand 1-0 thanks to a fine set -piece from defender Steph Houghton.
Before the match, Kiwi coach Tony Readings tried playing mind games by suggesting the pressure of an expectant home crowd might trouble the first ever Great Britain women’s side, but this wasn’t the case as our ladies roared out of the starting blocks eager to give the 24,549-strong crowd something to shout about.
Goal-scorer Steph Houghton clearly fancied her chances in the Group E opener, forcing a save from Kiwi goal-keeper Jenny Bindon with a well-struck free-kick. The positive start lead to a dominant first-half performance but the home side just couldn’t find a way to break the deadlock, with Alex Scott, Anita Asante and Kim Little all failing to convert good goal-scoring opportunities.
As the whistle blew for half-time there was a feeling that for all their good work, GB could be heading for their second straight goalless draw. However, their determination to do the home nations proud proved too much for New Zealand as Steph Houghton atoned for her earlier set piece by leaving Bindon little chance with a great strike from 25 yards.
The exertion of energy to get into a winning position clearly had an effect on Team GB as New Zealand slowly began to threaten. Karen Bardsley had to be alert on a number of occasions to prevent the Ferns from snatching a late equaliser and spoiling the celebrations at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
Hope Powell can now relax a little before her side’s next game against Cameroon on Saturday, where victory will all but guarantee them a place in the knock-out stages. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a successful run for both the women’s football side and the whole British athletic team as we approach Friday’s opening ceremony.
Dan Cain, Olympics correspondent