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The OlyWhites have made a perfect start to their campaign for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Striker Chris Wood scored in the 70th minute to record a priceless 1-0 victory over Asian champions South Korea at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium on Thursday night.
The goal marked New Zealand’s first-ever win in men’s football at the Olympics, following previous draws in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.
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Wood was initially flagged for offside after midfielder Joe Bell’s sharp pass hit a South Korean defender and fell in the Burnley forward’s path, but the fringe decision was correctly quashed by the video assistant referee.
Setting up in a 3-4-3 formation, New Zealand were disjointed and reticent in the first half, relying on two key saves from goalkeeper Michael Wood to keep Group B favorites South Korea at bay.
It looked like Changhoon Kwon would open the score midway through the first half after chest-controlling a dangerous cross from Yoonseong Kang, but Woud made himself big and made the crucial intervention when Kwon pulled the trigger.
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Despite their tentative start, 66 minutes before registering a single shot on target, the OlyWhites’ confidence grew in the second half and they eventually earned their narrow win, with Wood’s strike proving to be the match winner.
With Honduras and Romania on the horizon, Thursday’s win has given the OlyWhites an excellent chance to get out of Group B and reach the knockout stages.
New Zealand 1 (Chris Wood 70′) South Korea 0 HT: 0-0
This article originally appeared on stuff.co.nz and is reproduced with permission
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