Cristiana Girelli’s 87th-minute header gave Italy a 1-0 win over Argentina in their Women’s World Cup opener at Eden Park, denying the South Americans a first win at the global soccer showpiece.
Veteran striker Girelli, 33, replaced 16-year-old midfielder Giulia Dragoni in the 83rd minute and needed only four minutes to make an impact, beating goalkeeper Vanina Correa with a fine header to seal a hard-fought victory.
Italy’s Ariana Caruso and Valentina Giacinti both had goals ruled offside in a competitive first half after Argentina nearly made a sensational start to the game, when Mariana Larroquette’s bicycle kick went narrowly wide in the second minute.
Goalkeeper Francesca Durante pushed away Argentine midfielder Florencia Bonsegundo’s attempt from a free kick in stoppage time, ensuring Italy earned three points to join Sweden on top of Group G.
Group G returns on Friday July 28 when Argentina take on South Africa. Sweden face Italy on Saturday July 29.
The final group games will take place on Wednesday August 2. Argentina will play Sweden, while Italy finish the group with a match against South Africa.
What is the schedule?
The group stage has begun and runs over a two-week period finishing on August 3. Group winners and runners-up progress to the round of 16, which takes place from August 5 to August 8.
The quarter-finals, which will be held in Wellington, Auckland, Brisbane and Sydney, are scheduled for August 11 and 12.
The first semi-final will then be played on August 15 in Auckland, with the other semi-final taking place on August 16 at the Accor Stadium in Sydney, which will then host the final on August 20.
A third-place play-off will be played the day before the final on August 19 in Brisbane.