Substitute Cristiana Girelli’s 87th-minute header gave Italy a 1-0 win over Argentina in their Women’s World Cup opener at Eden Park on Monday, denying the South Americans a first win at the global soccer showpiece.
Veteran striker Girelli, 33, replaced 16-year-old midfielder Giulia Dragoni in the 83rd minute and needed only four minutes to make an impact, beating goalkeeper Vanina Correa with a fine header to seal a hard-fought victory for her country.
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Italy’s Arianna Caruso and Valentina Giacinti both had goals ruled offside in a competitive first half after Argentina nearly made a sensational start to the game, when Mariana Larroquette’s bicycle kick went narrowly wide in the second minute.
Goalkeeper Francesca Durante pushed away Argentine midfielder Florencia Bonsegundo’s attempt from a free kick in stoppage time, ensuring Italy earned three points to join Sweden at the top of Group G.
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