Women's World Cup co-hosts Australia beat Ireland in opener


Letting loose with Australia fans for their first game of World Cup

ESPN's Marissa Lordanic and Joey Lynch lap up the atmosphere as the Matildas kicked off their World Cup campaign with a 1-0 win vs. Ireland.

Co-hosts Australia laboured initially in the absence of injured captain Sam Kerr but a second-half penalty from Steph Catley got them off to a solid start at the Women's World Cup with a 1-0 win over Ireland in Group B on Thursday.

The news that striker Kerr had been ruled out by a calf injury stunned the record crowd of 75,784 as it filtered into Stadium Australia but Catley stepped up to take the captain's armband and score the decisive goal in the 52nd minute.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

- Women's World Cup bracket and fixtures schedule

Ireland, cheered on by a noisy band of compatriots, made life difficult for the Australians with their compact defence and came closeto forcing an equaliser during a period of sustained pressure late in the second half.

"It's incredible to get the win, I think this is the longest buildup to a game in my entire life," Catley told reporters.

"Losing a player like Sam, probably the best player in the world and her as a person, obviously we were heartbroken. We had to use her spirit ... to help us push on. She's so, so important, she's our spiritual leader."

After a moment's silence for the victims of the morning's shooting in Auckland, the game opened as had been expected with Ireland getting plenty of bodies behind the ball and challenging Australia to try to break them down.

The Matildas were successful in using their pace on the flanks to get behind the Irish defence but the massed ranks of green shirts managed to deal with the subsequent crosses into the box.

It was from the set piece that the hosts looked most likely to score and winger Hayley Raso had the first attempt on goal from a 28th minute corner only to flash her header wide.

The second shot on goal came just before half time but Katrina Gorry's long-range effort was easily gathered by Courtney Brosnan in the Ireland goal.