The roar of more than 40,000 home fans made all the difference for underdogs New Zealand, forward Hannah Wilkinson said on Thursday, after her Football Ferns stunned Norway 1-0 in their Women’s World Cup opener.

New Zealand had never won a World Cup match through five previous appearances at the tournament and pundits were saying before the game that even a draw against the 1995 champions would have counted as a major accomplishment.

However, New Zealand had clearly not read the script.

Wilkinson capped off a fine sweeping move to fire home the only goal of the game early in the second half, setting off a deafening cheer from the 42,137 in attendance – the largest crowd for a football game in New Zealand.

“Honestly it means the world,” she told reporters. “I’m just really glad that I could do that for my country and do it in New Zealand in front of a home crowd and make our nation proud.

“Obviously, you know, we had such amazing support tonight, and I think that’s what really made a difference for us.”

New Zealand’s build up to the World Cup had been far from perfect, enduring a 10-match winless streak before beating Vietnam in a friendly earlier this month.

Midfielder Malia Steinmetz said the moment of triumph was “so surreal” after months of preparation.

“It was a bit mad,” she told reporters. “Something we’ve been wanting and we’ve been trying so hard for, a lot of sacrifice has been made for this and the fact that we got it and we’ve got a victory is insane.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins visited the squad in the locker room to offer his congratulations, coach Jitka Klimkova told reporters.

“He was very, very proud,” said Klimkova. “I believe we inspired even more his daughter playing football.”

New Zealand will get the chance to make it two wins from two when they face tournament debutants the Philippines on Tuesday before closing out their Group A campaign against Switzerland.