Team GB women off to winning start in Cardiff
TEAM GB 1 NEW ZEALAND 0
PETER Jackson, Russell Crowe, Jonah Lomu, Sir Richard Hadlee, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Your girls took a hell of a beating.
Well, 1-0, but who’s counting?
The London 2012 Olympic Games kicked off in fine style at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium today as the Team GB women, playing their first ever match at any Olympics, secured victory over their New Zealand counterparts.
The mass of empty seats wasn’t perhaps the best advert for the Games and officials at the stadium refused to release the official attendance.
But if the pre-game estimate of 40,000 was anywhere near correct then organisers LOCOG will be pretty happy.
Whether you regard the stadium as being half full or half empty depends on your outlook on life but that is a pretty big number for women’s football.
It’s worth noting, for instance, that only 26,000 people turned up to watch the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale take on the mighty Germany at the same venue three years ago.
And all those who did make it inside the home of Welsh rugby will probably feel like they earned a gold medal just for getting through the airport-style security.
Anybody who has tickets to watch Brazil tomorrow, the GB women on Saturday and especially the men’s side next week should prepare for a long queue to get into Fort Knox.
On the pitch, GB stars Kelly Smith and Anita Asante had the honour of kicking-off the whole competition but the sweltering conditions made for a slow start from both sides.
New Zealand settled marginally quicker than their hosts but Hope Powell’s side soon began to dominate with Arsenal stars Smith and Alex Scott impressive.
Asante missed a hat-trick of chances before the break and GB continued to dominate in the second half.
The deadlock was finally broken by defender Stephanie Houghton with a fine curling free-kick that found the bottom corner of Jenny Bindon’s net on 64 minutes.
The crowd, average age about 11, screeched and squealed their approval and the Team GB rollercoaster was off and running.
Team GB: Bardsley, A. Scott, Houghton, J. Scott, Stoney, Carney (F. Williams, 89), Smith (Yankey, 69), Little (White, 45), Dieke, Asante, Aluko.
Subs not used: Bradley, Rafferty, R. Williams, Brown.
New Zealand: Bindon, Percival, Hoyle, Erceg, Smith, Riley, Moorwood (Hassett, 60), Hearn, Gregorius, Yallop (Longo, 75), Wilkinson.
Subs not used: Green, White, Hill, Scott, Rolls.
Referee: Kari Seitz (USA)