Powell praises 'history makers' after GB get Olympic campaign up and running
19:43 GMT, 25 July 2012
Hope Powell hailed her 'history makers' after Great Britain launched their Olympic campaign with a 1-0 win over New Zealand in Cardiff.
Steph Houghton scored the only goal, curling home a superb 65th-minute free-kick which, given the nature of this 12-team competition, is almost enough to secure a quarter-final berth.
However, as the very first match GB have played in women's football, and the first event of the entire Olympics, Powell knows GB have made a statement that can never be erased.
'The girls have made history today,' said Powell. 'It has been mentioned so much we couldn't ignore it. We were the first women's GB team ever and we won. That will never change now.
Magic moment: Steph Houghton wheels away after firing the only goal of the game
'We wanted to enjoy the experience. We recognised it was the first event and that it was an opportunity for the girls to showcase their talent. I wanted them to embrace it and have a go. As it happens, we did alright.'
Despite the Football Association's pre-match claim that in excess of 31,000 tickets had been sold, the official attendance of 24,549 meant that it wasn't the UK record for a women's international the game had been billed as.
Nevertheless, Powell and her players have been overwhelmed by the entire Olympic experience so far.
'It was a great crowd,' she said. 'It is nice to come to a big stadium. That inspires the girls to do well.'
All good: Hope Powell oversees Ebngland's opening win
GB will hope to enjoy a similar experience when they take on Cameroon in the same stadium on Thursday.
New Zealand boss Tony Readings saw enough in the hosts' performance to believe they can make a major impact in the competition.
To do that, they will need to become more clinical in their finishing. After a nervous opening, GB blew a succession of chances before Houghton stepped up for her big moment.
It was some kind of redemption for the Durham-born defender, who has twice missed out on major tournaments because of injury.
Winner: Houghton fires in her free-kick
'She has been really unlucky,' said Powell.
'She suffered major injuries before the World Cup in 2007 and the Euros in 2009. She has worked really hard to get back into condition and is now one of the fittest players in the squad. Scoring today was a great honour for her.'
Powell claimed Houghton was 'in shock' as the ball went in, an assessment the 24-year-old did not dispute.
'It is almost impossible to put into words,' she said. 'I knew I had struck it well and when I picked my head up it was in the back of the net. I didn't really know what to do with my celebration.
'I was trying to head towards the bench but I got tired and tried to slow down because it was so hot. It was a really special moment for me, the best of my career without a doubt.'