The first victory of the London Olympics went to the host country.

Stephanie Houghton curled in a 64th-minute free kick to give Britain a 1-0 win over New Zealand in a women's football match that kicked off the London Games on Wednesday, two days before the opening ceremony.

It was the first ever win for Britain in women's football, as team had never been put together before this year's Olympics.

The players celebrated by hugging on the pitch and then walking around the field to thank the nearly 25,000 fans at the Millennium Stadium on a hot afternoon in Cardiff, Wales.

"They made history today. They are history makers,'' Britain coach Hope Powell said.

"They made history today. They are history makers"

Hope Powell

"We recognised that it was the first event, that it was an opportunity to showcase our talent. We couldn't ignore that.''

The football tournament started early because of its long match schedule.

The men's competition will begin on Thursday.

Britain now are one of the favorites to advance from Group E along with 2008 silver-medallist Brazil.

Houghton took advantage of a free kick just outside the penalty area to send a right-foot shot into the left side of the net, getting the ball just inside the wall to beat New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon.

The New Zealanders, who have never won a match in the Olympics or the World Cup finals in women's football, controlled play early before Britain took over about midway through the first half, creating a series of dangerous scoring chances.

"It was a tough contest,'' Powell said.

"Conditions were very difficult for both sides. It was a battle. We are really pleased to get the first game out of the way with three points.''

Source: AP