- SOCCER WORLD CUP
Cristiana Girelli’s Goal Gives Italy 1-0 Win over Argentina at the Women’s World Cup
17:29 JST, July 24, 2023
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Cristiana Girelli’s goal in the 87th minute broke a stalemate and Italy kicked off the Women’s World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Argentina on Monday night.
Italy put the ball in the back of the net twice in the opening half but both times were offside, before Girelli’s breakthrough header. Girelli came into the match as a substitute in the 83rd minute.
The Italians have never dropped an opening match at the World Cup. But this time they faced tenacious Argentina, eager for its first-ever win in the tournament. Going into the World Cup, La Albiceleste were inspired by their men’s side and star Lionel Messi, who brought home the World Cup trophy from Qatar late last year.
Italy has had more success on the big stage, advancing to the World Cup quarterfinals in 2019 after a 2-0 round of 16 victory over China. The Italians were stopped by the Netherlands, which went on to lose to the United States in the final.
Argentina had a boisterous section of fans — including a drum corps — at the match at Eden Park. The crowd at the match was announced at 30,889.
Argentina’s women returned to the World Cup four years ago in France after a 12-year absence and had a tough time: after a draw with Japan and a loss to England, the team played to a tie with Scotland — but couldn’t collect enough points to advance out of the group.
Arianna Caruso, who plays professionally for Juventus, appeared to score from distance in the 15th minute but Italy was quickly ruled offside. The 23-year old was the youngest woman to reach 100 appearances with Juventus.
A midfielder, she was one of Italy’s most dangerous players early in the match. But she was handed a yellow card in the 25th minute and was subbed off in the 58th minute.
Italy was offside again on Valentina Giacinti’s attempted goal late in the half.
Manuela Giugliano had an opportunity for Italy early in the second half, but her shot sailed over the net.
Italy goalkeeper Lara Esponda held Argentina at bay on a dangerous free kick in the 73rd.
Sweden defeated South Africa 2-1 on Sunday to kick off Group G play at the tournament, co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia. Group G plays all of it’s matches in New Zealand. Argentina next faces South Africa on Friday in Dunedin, while Italy plays Sweden in Wellington on Saturday.
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