OlyWhites get first-ever Olympic win with VAR-assisted Wood goal

Brodyn Knuckey
Source: 1News

The OlyWhites have made history at the Tokyo Games with their first ever Olympic win after Chris Wood delivered a winner that was eventually confirmed by VAR in a 1-0 win over South Korea.

Wood put his side ahead in the second half with a rare opportunity to score after the Kiwi side slowly played their way into the game.

The team's nerves appeared to show early on with passes loose and communication breakdowns handing a hefty portion of possession and territory to South Korea in the opening 20 minutes.

However, the Kiwi team grew in confidence as the game went on, patiently waiting for their opportunities as coach Danny Hay's defensive gameplan began to show.

On paper, Hay had the team in a 4-4-2 formation however whenever South Korea were in control of the ball, New Zealand would effectively play as 5-4-1 with midfielder Gianni Stensness dropping back into the defensive line and Elijah Just following him into the midfield.

The formation shifts troubled South Korea although their speed still managed to open up three decent opportunities in the first half.

Goalkeeper Michael Woud was up to the challenge on two of the occassions with impressive saves while the third - a rocket from outside the box - went wide of the left post.

KASHIMA, JAPAN - JULY 22: Changhoon Kwon #7 of Team South Korea shoots whilst under pressure from Michael Woud #1 of Team New Zealand during the Men's First Round Group B match between New Zealand and Republic of Korea during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Kashima Stadium on July 22, 2021 in Kashima, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

The OlyWhites showed much more attacking flair in the second half, looking to give star striker Chris Wood opportunities to get involved in the game with two free kicks early on.

South Korea thwarted the efforts though and the game continued to teeter on a knife's edge until Woud was forced to make his first save of the second half in the 67th minute, which he managed to do with assistance from captain Winston Reid.

The match then took a dramatic turn though with Wood capitalising on a deflected ball to find the back of the net and seemingly give New Zealand the lead.

The lead was short lived though with the offside flag going up to Wood's dismay only for it then to be awarded again with the VAR intervening to prove Wood was onside by the slimmest of margins.

That meant with 20 minutes to go, New Zealand were on top 1-0.

Chris Wood celebrates after scoring against South Korea in the Tokyo Olympics.

South Korea didn't let the situation shake them though as they again began to look for holes in the Kiwi defence once more and found thnselves with another prime chance in the 83rd minute only for Woud to step up again.

South Korea weren't done though, attacking the box with a barrage of crosses but the OlyWhites' height proved to be an advantage.

The OlyWhites had some concern late in the game though with Reid forced to head to the sideline for a blood bin after an ugly midair collision.

Reid eventually made his way back onto the field with five minutes of injury time painfully added for Hay and New Zealand football fans.

The team held on though, claiming history in the process.

New Zealand next plays Honduras on Sunday at 8pm NZT before finishing pool play next Wednesday against Romania.