London 2012: Great Britain 1-0 New Zealand

The Great Britain women's football team kicked off the 2012 Olympics with a hard-fought victory over New Zealand at a sun-soaked Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Hope Powell's GB team were making their first appearance in the women's Olympic football tournament and for a while it looked as though it might turn into a frustrating afternoon for her side after they wasted a host of good chances.

Analysis

"We wanted a good, confident performance and we got the win. Great Britain have a great bench and there are impact players who can do a job. It is a tough job for Hope Powell but a nice one to have. For Steph Houghton to have the confidence to strike the ball like that was great. It had whip and pace and the goalkeeper had no chance. It was a fantastic strike. She had the belief that she was going to score."

But the first action of the Games was settled when full-back Steph Houghton converted a free-kick midway through the second half, much to the delight of an enthusiastic crowd of 24,549 in the Welsh capital.

Powell's team celebrated with a group huddle at the final whistle and a lap of the stadium - and they can look forward to the remainder of their Group E campaign, which continues against Cameroon on Saturday.

But it was a very different story during the opening exchanges as they were outplayed by the Football Ferns.

New Zealand, who lost to England in the group stage of last year's World Cup, controlled the early battle in midfield and created a series of half-chances.

It was a worrying 15 minutes for Powell's team but once they settled down they soon started to carve open their opponents.

The barrage of chances started when Arsenal full-back Houghton forced a save from unconvincing Kiwi keeper Jenny Bindon.

Eniola Aluko had a shot blocked, while the profligate Anita Asante struck the post with a header - a let-off that prompted Bindon to kiss the post - and failed to convert two more excellent headed opportunities.

Alex Scott shot wide after collecting a through ball from the intelligent Kelly Smith and, as the opening half turned into a story of missed opportunities, Kim Little unwisely opted to pass when the Football Ferns keeper had dived early, leaving a gaping hole at her near post.

History threatened to repeat itself after the restart, with New Zealand starting aggressively and going close through an Amber Hearn free-kick.

Bouncing back

  • Steph Houghton's goal marked her first starting appearance in a major international tournament. She missed out on the 2007 World Cup and 2009 Euros through injury.

GB then reasserted their dominance on the contest, with Ali Riley making desperate blocks to deny Scott and half-time substitute Ellen White.

But in stark contrast with the opening half, Powell's side eventually finished one of their numerous opportunities when Houghton's free-kick nestled into the bottom corner.

The crowd responded with chants of "Team GB", but they were almost silenced when a mix-up between Ifeoma Dieke and Scott presented Sarah Gregorious with a clean run at goal.

It was a glorious opening for the 24-year-old but her tame effort was saved by Karen Bardsley.

There was one further scare for Great Britain as Hearn went close with a curling strike from the edge of the area but Bardsley tipped it over the crossbar.

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