They may not be in a position to defy Betfair Premier League tips, but Team GB’s women’s football team could be on course to a medal finish after a convincing victory over New Zealand in their first match of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Steph Horton’s superb curling free kick was enough to confirm victory and surely propel GB to the quarter-final stage.
Manager Hope Powell’s side beat their Group E rivals in a tense match at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, and their performance has rocketed GB’s expectations of winning a medal on home soil.
Powell’s side controlled play for large parts of the game in front of over 24,000 spectators.
The boss will have been pleased to see Jill Scott performing at her best: holding the ball up well to bring teammates into the game.
At the other end, goalkeeper Karen Bardsley marshalled her defence well, and came to the rescue to block New Zealand’s Sarah Gregorious one-on-one.
But plaudits must go to GB’s attacking stars, most notably Eniola Aluko and Anita Asante.
Aluko was impervious in Great Britain’s forward third, cutting in from the wing and distributing across the midfield. Her anticipation cleared up many loose balls in the centre of the park, giving GB a starting block to push forward.
But the star of the show was undoubtedly Asante, who came desperately close to scoring on three occasions.
The midfielder saw her first headed effort rebound off the stump of the post, with a contested corner flying narrowly over the crossbar and a final diving header glanced wide.
The Gothenburg FC star’s commitment and poor luck showed just how much more there is to come from Hope Powell’s side.
Almost certain to qualify for the knock-out stages, Team GB are in a promising position and can only improve from here as the tournament progresses.
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