Jill Roord came off the bench and scored in stoppage time to give the Netherlands a 1-0 victory over New Zealand in the Women’s World Cup group opener for both teams Tuesday in Le Havre.
The Netherlands, ranked No. 8 in the world, controlled possession throughout the game but couldn't get by New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler until Roord's breakthrough header.
The tough loss after a strong defensive effort means 19th-ranked New Zealand is still looking for its first-ever World Cup victory. Tom Sermanni, former coach of the Australia and U.S. national teams, was hired as coach of New Zealand last October in time for the Ferns to qualify for their fifth World Cup.
The Netherlands made its World Cup debut in 2015 and got through to the knockout stage but lost to eventual runner-up Japan. The team has raised it profile since, winning the 2017 Euros.
GERMANY LOSES MAROZSAN TO BROKEN TOE
Germany will be without Dzsenifer Marozsan for the rest of the group stage at the Women's World Cup because of a broken toe.
Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg announced the injury on Tuesday, a day before her team was to play Spain in Valenciennes, France. The coach said she hopes the 27-year-old midfielder can return before the end of the tournament.
"It just hurts to not see her play because it was a special tournament for Dzseni, so it affects us not only as a sports matter but on a personal level," Voss-Tecklenburg said through a translator.
Marozsan broke the toe on her left foot in Gemany's opening match against China on Saturday. The two-time World Cup champions won 1-0.
Marozsan was an inspirational story for the tournament in France, having returned to the game after a pulmonary embolism kept her sidelined for several months last year.
In the final at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, she scored against Sweden in a 2-1 victory for her country's first gold medal. She has 32 goals in 89 international appearances for Germany.
Marozsan currently plays for Lyon and has been the French player of the year for the past two seasons. Lyon recently won its fourth straight Champions League title.
A World Cup championship is the only major title Marozsan doesn't have.
"For us it means as a team that we have to try to compensate the losses to make sure the players who are on the pitch are getting the support, and adapt the way we play," Voss-Tecklenburg said.
FIFA MISLEADS OVER TICKET SALES
FIFA’s attempt to hype Women’s World Cup ticket sales didn’t go exactly as planned.
The sport's governing body gave the impression that tickets for the tournament in France were hard to come by when it boasted to the public a month ago: "You can still buy tickets for a few matches."
But with the opening weekend taking place against the backdrop of many empty seats, FIFA came clean on Tuesday after providing misleading information.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in Paris last week that 20 of the 52 matches had been sold out. FIFA revised that number to 14 on Tuesday, meaning 70 percent of the stadiums will not be at capacity as it stands.
Of the nine games in the opening four days of the tournament, the only capacity crowds were at host France's victory over South Korea in Paris on Friday and at Brazil's win over Jamaica in Grenoble.
While providing details of ticket sales to The Associated Press, FIFA did not respond to questions about why it implied on Twitter on May 7 that there was little availability nor why Infantino inflated ticket sales.
Some fans stopped looking for tickets after FIFA hinted that they were hard to come by.
"I was impressed and excited about seeing the announcement that the majority of games had sold out," England supporter Sean Cottrell said. "I was also disappointed as I was planning to take my family to see a few of the games.
"But we changed our plans when we saw that we unlikely would be able to get tickets. It was probably something lost in translation in the communications and now I regret not double-checking."
The choice of stadiums isn't always helpful for fans, either, even for those a short distance away.
England's next game against Argentina is in the northwestern city of Le Havre, which has no scheduled flights to anywhere in the world. Fans face a journey of about three hours from Paris by road or rail. There are ferries from Portsmouth in southern England to Le Havre, and they take about five hours.
"If the fans don't come out, they are missing out," said Nikita Parris, who scored England's opening goal against Scotland on Sunday. "It's going to be a special World Cup."
France's three games in the group stage have sold out, with the final tickets for the second game against Norway in Nice on Wednesday snapped up after the host's impressive 4-0 victory over South Korea.
"Some people were waiting to see what France could do in the opening match," France coach Corinne Diacre said Tuesday. "We did what was expected of us. We now have six more steps to come."
The semifinals and final in Lyon in early July are already sure to be full, according to FIFA.
FIFA said last week it had "allocated" the majority of tickets — 460,748 — to French people. After that, more tickets have been allocated to Americans — 130,905 — than the rest of the world combined. Britons rank third with 29,307 tickets, up a third from figures provided to the AP in April.
The group games involving the defending champion United States are listed by FIFA as sold out, starting Tuesday against Thailand in Reims.