In a hard-fought match, striker Cristiana Girelli emerged as the hero for Italy, heading in the decisive goal in the 87th minute to secure a 1-0 victory against Argentina in their Women’s World Cup opener.
Italy faced a resilient defensive performance from Argentina throughout the game, making it appear that they might be denied a win in Auckland. However, Girelli, who came on as a substitute for Giulia Dragoni in the 83rd minute, proved her worth and sealed the victory for her team.
Italy’s manager. Milena Bertolini, praised Girelli’s leadership qualities, describing her as a crucial player in the squad. “Cristiana is a leader, a captain of this group,” said Bertolini. “She is always there, and we know what she can give. We are very happy. We know how important is to start such a tournament well.”
Despite having faith in the 16-year-old Dragoni, who became one of the youngest players in the tournament’s history, it was ultimately Girelli, at 33 years old, who made the decisive impact.
Bertolini acknowledges Dragoni’s talent, remarking on her solid performance in the match. “Giulia is a talent of Italian football,” said Bertolini. “She was ready, and she did well playing in a big stadium. If they are here, it is because they deserve it.”
In a tense game with several contentious moments, Girelli managed to connect with Lisa Boattin’s cross and deftly loop the ball over Vanina Correa, clinching the crucial goal. Earlier in the match, Italy had two goals disallowed for offside, dampening their attacking efforts.
Next, Italy will face Sweden, who also secured three points in Group G, in their upcoming match in Wellington on Saturday. Italy’s performance in recent years has seen ups and downs since their impressive showing at the 2019 World Cup, where they claimed notable victories against Australia, Jamaica, and Chine. However, their Euro 2022 campaign was disappointing, and many of the players in Bertolini’s current squad are making their World Cup debut.
Overall, Italy’s hard-fought victory against Argentina sets the tone for an exciting Women’s World Cup, and both teams will undoubtedly look to build their performances in the upcoming matches.