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NZ lose Olympic soccer opener to GB
03:25 AEST Thu Jul 26 2012

New Zealand's hopes of making the knockout stages of the Olympic women's soccer tournament are in doubt after losing the opening fixture of the London Games 1-0 to hosts Great Britain.

A free-kick from Stephanie Houghton 64 minutes into the match at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium gave the Games' hosts a winning start in a match played in front of a 38,000-strong crowd.

NZ striker Sarah Gregorious wasted a gilt-edged chance to level the match soon after only for Great Britain keeper Karen Bardsley to dive to her left to keep out her weak effort.

The NZ side, who also have the highly-rated Brazil and Cameroon in their group, made a bright start on a sunny afternoon to peg the hosts back in their half and dominate possession in the opening exchanges.

Striker Amber Hearn, New Zealand's most dangerous player, headed wide from a left wing cross early on, but despite bossing the game by not allowing Great Britain to settle on the ball, did not really test Bardsley.

Britain worked their way back into the match as it wore on with lively winger Eniola Aluko becoming more influential and she drew a good save from Jenny Bindon midway through the first half.

Bindon had the post to thank in the 34th minute, when Anita Asante's header hit the post, the first of three headed chances for the impressive midfielder in the space of six minutes as Hope Powell's side took control of the half.

They got their reward for their dominance when fullback Houghton managed to curl a shot through the wall past the diving Bindon from 25 metres out with 26 minutes left.

Gregorious took advantage of a defensive mix-up to be put through on goal eight minutes later but her tame shot failed to test Bardsley and give the finish NZ needed.

NZ will now likely need to win at least one of their remaining fixtures if they want to be assured of making the last eight.

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Opening Ceremony
Archery
Athletics
Badminton
Basketball
Beach Volleyball
Boxing
BMX
Cycling
Diving
Equestrian
Fencing
Football
Gymnastics
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Table Tennis
Taekwondo
Tennis
Triathlon
Volleyball
Water Polo
Weightlifting
Wrestling
Closing ceremony
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