The Philippines made history at their first Women’s World Cup with their first goal and first win on Tuesday, holding off under pressure to defeat co-hosts New Zealand.
The New Zealanders just five days earlier had celebrated their first victory in six trips to the Women’s World Cup.
Sarina Bolden scored the historic game-winner in the 24th minute and goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel, one of 18 players born in the US or based on the Philippines team, put in a tireless performance to frustrate New Zealand as they desperately tried to come back.
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For the tournament’s co-hosts, the jubilation that surrounded their 1-0 victory over Norway in the tournament’s opening game and transformed a rugby-mad nation into a suddenly football-loving one, faded far too soon.
A win over the Philippines would have meant New Zealand the first of the 32 teams at this World Cup to advance beyond the group stage.
But after conceding Bolden’s goal against the course of the game, New Zealand were unable to recover. He had enjoyed 80% of possession before the Santa Clara-born Bolden scored from the Philippines’ first shot on goal.
New Zealand finished with 67% of possession and 14 shots on target for the Philippine three, but could not find an equalizer, let alone a winner.
Hannah Wilkinson came close on a couple of occasions and Jacqui Hand hit the post in the 64th. In the cruelest blow for the hosts, Wilkinson crossed at 68 to Hand, who headed into the net for what appeared to be a goal.
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But a review showed Wilkinson was offside by a fraction and the goal was disallowed. For the remainder of the match, McDaniel was a sentinel in front of the Philippines goal.
«I have everyone else’s tears in my eyes, it’s very emotional,» said Philippines coach Alen Stajcic. «You saw how long New Zealand had to wait for their first win, six World Cups, and (for the Philippines) to get it today was incredible.
«We made our own luck, but we were also very lucky. New Zealand were in front the whole game and they deserved something. But football is cruel sometimes.»
When the final whistle blew after five minutes of extra time in which McDaniel made two outstanding saves, there was only joy and celebration for the Philippines. His supporters were numerous (New Zealand has a substantial Philippine population), but aside from Bolden’s goal when they voiced their support, they had been subdued; he feared that it seemed to tempt fate.
Those fans must have watched part of the second half with their fingers as New Zealand pushed forward in attack and tested McDaniel with shot after shot. In the end they let their whoops of joy spill out of Wellington’s Sky Stadium and into a beautiful but cool Wellington night.
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The New Zealanders, so upbeat after the win over Norway, shuddered briefly, fell silent but finally saluted their team. A loss was unexpected but not terminal. Switzerland and Norway drew 0-0 later on Tuesday in Hamilton in a result that leaves the four teams in Group A still in a position to advance.
Switzerland leads with four points, New Zealand and the Philippines have three each and Norway have one.
New Zealand will play Switzerland and the Philippines will play Norway on Sunday.
Tickets for the New Zealand match in Dunedin are sold out, making it the third straight crowd as New Zealanders embrace football and the Ferns in record numbers.
«We were dominating the game tonight, keeping the ball,» New Zealand coach Jitka Klimkova said. «There were too many unforced turnovers. We didn’t see those turnovers in our game against Norway.
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«We can be more prepared against Switzerland. The tournament is not over yet, we will keep fighting.»
New Zealanders will keep waiting. The victory over Norway was transformative for women’s football, the women’s sport in New Zealand. Another victory could be revolutionary.
The revolution was delayed on Tuesday, but not cancelled.