DUNEDIN, New Zealand – Switzerland made a winning start to their Women’s World Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory over debutants Philippines at Dunedin Stadium on Friday, thanks to Ramona Bachmann’s first-half penalty and a close-range effort from Seraina Piubel.
Inka Grings’ side were awarded a penalty by VAR after midfielder Coumba Sow was caught by a stray boot from Jessika Cowart in the box late in the first half, with forward Ms. Bachmann coolly slotting the ball past goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel.
The Philippines, coached by former Matildas manager Alen Stajcic, made history as they became the first team from their country – male or female – to appear at the finals of a global soccer tournament.
And they were denied an early opener when midfielder Katrina Guillou’s strike was ruled out for offside.
Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic, Switzerland’s top scorer and most capped player, fired over from close range before Ms. Bachmann’s penalty put them ahead.
Switzerland dominated the second half and deservedly doubled their lead through midfielder Ms. Piubel, who smashed home in the 64th minute after Ms. McDaniel denied Mses. Crnogorcevic and Sow.
There were plenty of empty seats in the 30,000-capacity stadium on Friday, despite FIFA giving away 20,000 free tickets for games in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Dunedin amid concerns about the slow pace of sales in New Zealand.
Switzerland top Group A on goal difference ahead of co-hosts New Zealand, who upset Norway 1-0 on Thursday. — Reuters