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Jul 25, 2012

Team GB sink NZ, USA comeback

Great Britain's women's team kicked off the Olympic tournament in Cardiff with a 1-0 win against New Zealand.

• Apology over North Korea flag gaffe
• Powell hails 'history makers'
• Rapinoe defends low crowd

Team GB had the better of the first half after a shaky start and midfielder Anita Asante went close three times. It took Asante just four minutes to go into the book for a raking tackle, but she almost made a better impact as a host of chances fell her way - the best being a header which flew just over the bar.

Controlling the pace of the game, Britain broke the deadlock in the second half as defender Stephanie Houghton netted a fine free-kick from just outside the area in the 64th minute.

A horrible defensive mix-up gave New Zealand a great chance to level the scores less than ten minutes later as two defenders collided to put Sarah Gregorius through on goal, but her tame shot was easily saved by Karen Bardsley.

Bardsley was called into action before the final whistle to tip Amber Hearn's dipping shot over the bar, but Britain held on to pick up their first win of the tournament.

Alex Morgan scored twice as the United States produced a stunning comeback from two goals down to beat France 4-2 in their opening match of the Olympic Games.

The reigning Olympic champions looked in trouble at Glasgow's Hampden Park when Gaetane Thiney and Marie-Laure Delie handed France a 2-0 lead after 13 minutes.

However, Abby Wambach's header and a cool finish from Morgan brought the score level before half-time and further goals from Carli Lloyd and Morgan early in the second half gave the Americans a deserved victory.

Japan came through with a 2-1 win over Canada in the other early match as Nahomi Kawasumi and Aya Miyama scored in the first half. Melissa Tancredi threatened a shock as Canada came back into the game, but it was not enough to see off the current World Champions.

Later, Brazil went top of Group E as they opened their Olympic campaign in style with a comfortable 5-0 victory over tournament newcomers Cameroon at the Millennium Stadium.

Early goals from Francielle and Renato Costa put Brazil in control, before captain Marta with a brace and substitute Cristiane sealed victory.

Sweden's women emphasised the gulf in class as they easily disposed of South Africa 4-1 after a first-half scoring spree in their Olympic Games Group F clash at the City of Coventry Stadium.

Sweden demonstrated the gap between sides ranked fourth and 61st respectively in the FIFA rankings against a South African side competing in the tournament for the first time.

North Korea eventually took the field an hour late - after a protest over the use of the South Korean flag by mistake in a pre-match presentation - to beat Colombia 2-0 with two goals from Kim Song-Hui.

Having seen their players' pictures appearing next to the flag of their close rivals, the North Koreans stormed off the pitch and returned to their dressing room. Eventually, after some persuasion, an international incident was avoided and they returned to take control of the match and keep pace with the US in Group G.

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