Women’s football at the Tokyo Olympics is underway and Ellen White’s double gave dominant Team GB a comfortable 2-0 win over Chile in their opening match.
That Hege Riise’s side failed to add to the scoreline owed much to their own profligacy and desperate, last-ditch, defending from Chile.
They now face the hosts, Japan, in Sapporo on Saturday before playing Canada in Kashima to complete Group E next Tuesday.
Unlike in the men’s version where age limits apply, women’s teams can field their strongest, senior sides, so the women’s game sees the competition as a major tournament and gold medals are seen as the pinnacle of players’ careers.
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When are Team GB’s games?
Yes, Great Britain enjoyed a winning start, beating Chile on Wednesday, but there will be much tougher games to come.
On Saturday (July 24), GB will meet the hosts, Japan, in Sapporo, before taking on Canada nearly 700 miles away in Kashima on July 27.
With 12 teams in the competition, the top two sides in each of the three groups will go through to the quarter-finals, along with the two best third-place teams.
The winners of GB’s group would take on a third-placed nation in Kashima on July 30, before potentially meeting the winners of the USA’s group in the semi-finals in Yokohama on August 2.
The runners-up in GB’s group will face the runners-up from Group F [Holland’s group] in the coastal town of Rifu on July 30, before colliding with the Group F winners on August 2 in Kashima.
The final, in Tokyo, will be played on August 6. Germany, 2016 gold-medal winners, have not qualified for the competition, but runners-up Sweden are in Group G and defeated long-standing rivals the USA 3-0 in their opening match.
Boss Hege Riise believes Team GB sent out a statement after cruising past Chile in their Olympic opener.
The side – primarily made up of England players – had played just one warm-up game together and, as a Team GB football squad returned for just their second Olympics, Riise was delighted with the display.
She said: "We have been waiting for this game a long time and we were so eager to get started. Get a good start, get a win, keep them away from our goal, score two goals – it’s a good statement for the games coming up.
"How we started the game was exceptional. The first 30 minutes were the best we’ve played and we kept it going. It wasn’t pretty for the whole game but we fought and we managed to get the result we wanted.
"I asked for a good start and we had a great one."
Riise, who won gold as a player with Norway in 2000, also reserved praise for Manchester City’s Ellen White after her brace.
She added: "We trust Ellen to score goals and she does. Not only goals, she fights hard, she works for 90 minutes to get the goal or other players in. She’s important and brings a lot of confidence to this team.
"It’s a team effort and we really stood out. We are so happy with the squad we have. We can put players on and make a difference and that’s the quality we want."
Chile boss Jose Letelier said: "We knew going into it Great Britain were a very powerful team. In the first half we got good close opportunities which we could have taken advantage of more.
"We have to be objective and we know Great Britain were better than us in this game.
"We tried to keep up with them and during the second half it was harder to get into their area. Without a doubt we have to surpass these obstacles.
"We have a women’s team who are still growing and we are going to play our game to our fullest potential. We have to learn from this going forward."
Who is in the Team GB squad?
Goalkeepers: Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City and England), Carly Telford (Chelsea and England)
Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea and England); Lucy Bronze (Manchester City and England); Rachel Daly (Houston Dash and England); Steph Houghton (Manchester City and England); Demi Stokes (Manchester City and England); Leah Williamson (Arsenal and England)
Midfielders: Sophie Ingle (Chelsea and Wales); Kim Little (Arsenal and Scotland); Jill Scott (Manchester City and England); Keira Walsh (Manchester City and England); Caroline Weir (Manchester City and Scotland)
Forwards: Lauren Hemp (Manchester City and England); Fran Kirby (Chelsea and England); Nikita Parris (Arsenal and England); Georgia Stanway (Manchester City and England); Ellen White (Manchester City and England)
Reserve players: Sandy MacIver (Everton and England); Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal and England); Niamh Charles (Chelsea and England); Ella Toone (Manchester United and England)
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The women’s groups
Japan, Canada, Great Britain, Chile
China, Brazil, Zambia, Holland
Sweden, USA, Australia, New Zealand
GB’s result and fixtures
- GB 2 Chile 0
- Japan v GB, July 24 [11.30am BST]
- Canada v GB, July 27 [12.00 midday BST]