It’s been a wild and wonderful first week in the Women’s World Cup, but the football has provided only half the drama. We’ve had penalties galore, outrageous outfits, offside calls defined by an earlobe, a runaway Ada Hegerberg and Alex Popp’s ET goal celebration.

We hear from The Athletic’s women’s football experts on their favourite standout moments from week one of the tournament….

Jacob Whitehead

Steph Catley’s penalty

The most significant moment of the tournament, without doubt, was the news of Sam Kerr’s injury trickling through to the 80,000 fans at Stadium Australia. A nation froze. This was the tournament’s poster girl and now there would be no guarantee she would play a single minute.

It set the stage for severe potential embarrassment. An intense Republic of Ireland performance greeted them, the visiting side having the better chances of the first half. Australia needed something — and when Ireland’s Marissa Sheva bundled over Hayley Raso in the box, they had their chance.

Cue replacement captain Catley, who confidently smashed the ball into the top corner. Australia felt one emotion — sheer relief.

Harriet Drudge

**Jamaica’s post-match celebrations after the France draw **

OK, I’ve gone for 0-0… but hear me out. There may have been an absence of goals and no real outstanding moment of the match, but the Reggae Girlz’ celebrations — after they secured their first-ever World Cup point — were special.

Jamaica celebrating after their 0-0 draw against France in their opening game (Photo: Mark Metcalfe – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Jamaica played with character and the neutrals in the ground were undoubtedly right behind them. France pressed for a late winner and Manchester City’s Khadija Shaw’s red card in the 92nd minute meant it was a nervy finish, but it has been a tumultuous few months for the squad in the build-up to the tournament. There have been significant disputes with the Jamaican Football Federation over treatment and resources, with one of the team’s mothers starting a crowdfunding page last month to help pay for travel and meals.

With this context, the draw was a remarkable result for Jamaica, deserving of the mini pitch invasion by those on the bench at the full-time whistle.

Steph Yang

New Zealand’s historic win over Norway and captain Ali Riley’s emotional interview afterwards

As Riley said, the win was something they’d had to work so hard for, especially after a string of demoralizing losses in their tournament preparation. And it was against Norway (12th in the FIFA world rankings), arguably the toughest team in their group, whom everyone had forecast to have the edge over the Ferns.

Riley during the post-match interview after the team’s 1-0 victory against Norway on July 20, 2023 (Photo: Jan Kruger – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

The cherry on top of it all was Riley earnestly pouring out on camera every emotion that has ever been felt over sport and, in a show of solidarity, she did it with rainbow and trans pride flag colours on her nails to boot.

Chloe Morgan

The Nigeria WNT dancing their way into the first game

From the minute they arrived at the stadium, the Super Falcons brought the vibes to Melbourne. The squad showed a united and positive front despite going through a period of significant turbulence with the Nigerian Football Federation in the lead-up to the tournament.



The three-way power struggle undermining Nigeria days before the Women’s World Cup

This was a side who understood they had a big job on their hands in their opening game against Olympic champions Canada, seventh in the FIFA rankings. But they were unfazed by the occasion and their opposition. Their joyous reception set the tone for the match, one in which they had little possession (32 per cent) but calmly ground out a draw and, with it, their first important point in the tournament.

Tamerra Griffin

Brazil’s Ary Borges’ hat trick and assist

Borges would have taken this category even if she had only scored one goal. Her celebration — falling to her knees in joyful tears on her way to dance for the cameras at the corner flag — perfectly encapsulated how monumental that moment was — not only for Brazil, but all the players making their World Cup debuts.

For all the talk of elite competition, all the expectations we place upon these athletes (and that athletes place upon themselves), it’s always refreshing to see their humanity shine through.

But Borges didn’t just stop there, of course, going on to score two more goals before being replaced for the legendary Marta. And as impressive as that was, her no-look assist to Bia Zaneratto was just as saucy. Borges is both on fire and still heating up, I fear.

Melanie Anzidei

**Everything about Linda Caicedo **

In the words of Colombian assistant coach Mario Abadia, 18-year-old Linda Caicedo is “de otra planeta” — “from another planet”.

Caicedo’s debut was historic, after now having played in three World Cups in a single year. That alone is an impressive feat. But she’s accomplished so much more, especially off the pitch. Three years ago, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. On the eve of Colombia’s opener, she shared with reporters how she feared she’d never play football again. But she won that battle, and she wants others affected by cancer to know “you can survive this” too.

Caicedo has made 10 appearances for Real Madrid since signing this year (Photo:Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The world is so lucky to witness her ability on the pitch. It’s as though she is everywhere, all at once. It also cannot be overstated what Caicedo can do for football in Latino America — not only for its growth but also as an example of how the game should be played.

I can’t wait to see how Caicedo influences football, beginning with this World Cup.

Meg Linehan

Argentina’s party in the stands

There have been a lot of great fan moments this tournament so far in New Zealand — the locals have truly gotten behind the Ferns in Auckland and Wellington, but it was watching one section of Eden Park grow and grow with Argentina fans that has stood out the most. They had the drums, the flags, and the party was so good they probably grew by a couple of hundred people. Italy may have walked off with the late winner, but if I’m going off vibes alone? I’m ready to hang with the Argentinians.

**Charlotte Harpur **

Vietnam’s penalty save vs theUnited States

It was like David against Goliath: Vietnam goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh against two-time World Cup winner Alex Morgan.

The Vietnam shotstopper stood her ground to deny the World Cup holders a 2-0 lead. Yes, the penalty was poor but that should not take anything away from Tran — it’s a free shot from 12 yards out. What’s more, the Vietnam players were more alert to the rebound too, putting Morgan under pressure.

Tran of Vietnam saves the penalty taken by USA’s Alex Morgan on July 22, 2023 (Photo: Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Tran jumped for joy, fists in the air. Her team-mates leapt on her, hugging, faces beaming. You could see how much it meant to them. It’s the small wins that count sometimes.

Michael Cox

Cristiana Girelli’s late headed winner

Possibly my favourite thing in football is the concept of the Plan B striker: the back-up option who is good in the air, and who you can introduce when you’ve given up trying to be intricate and just want to sling the ball into the box.

Enter Cristiana Girelli, 83 minutes into Italy’s clash with Argentina, in perhaps the most intriguing, well-contested game of this tournament so far. You knew she would get one chance. And when Lisa Boattin hung the ball up into the penalty box, you also knew what was coming — a good run, a great leap, and a perfect looping header to secure Italy three points.

(Top Photo: Brendon Thorne – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)