GB women's football start with win
July 25, 2012 19:39 pm
Stephanie Houghton gave Great Britain Olympic lift-off in Cardiff with the only goal in a 1-0 victory over New Zealand.
In front of a record international crowd in the UK for a women's football game, the 24-year-old curled home a superb second-half free-kick to give the home side a win that puts them on track for a place in the last eight of the 12-team competition.
Durham-born Houghton's goal secured a deserved win for Hope Powell's players, who take on Cameroon at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
For 15 minutes, however, Team GB found themselves on the back foot against New Zealand, Hannah Wilkinson proving highly effective for the visitors. That opening period was halfway through before Powell's side managed their first effort on goal, a curling Houghton free-kick which was pushed away by Jenny Bindon.
With Arsenal full-back Alex Scott starting to make her presence felt with regular forays forward from right-back, Great Britain began to get on top. Scott failed to make the most of a decent chance after she had skipped into the box.
Anita Asante went closest to breaking the deadlock after Eniola Aluko's cross dropped to the far post, but there seemed little conviction in the header.
Great Britain continued to create chances following the introduction of Ellen White at half-time as Scott had a goalbound effort blocked by Ali Riley. But to the crowd's delight in the 64th minute, Houghton kept her nerve with a 25-yard free-kick as she curled expertly into the bottom corner.
The cheers of delight were almost equalled by those of relief when a ridiculous mix-up in GB's defence sent Sarah Gregorious clean through. Gregorious panicked though, and rolled a pitiful attempt straight to Karen Bardsley.
The Linkoping goalkeeper was called on again nine minutes from time, when she tipped an Amber Hearn shot over.
GB were not to be denied though as they secured a win that will be acknowledged far beyond the Welsh capital.
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