CHOFU, JAPAN - JULY 21: Sam Kerr #2 of Team Australia celebrates after scoring their side's second goal during the Women's First Round Group G match between Australia and New Zealand during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 21, 2021 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The Matildas are off to a winning start at the Tokyo Olympics, defeating arch-nemesis New Zealand 2-1 in an empty Ajinomoto Stadium on Wednesday night.

The Australians dominated from the outset - particularly through the midfield - and in just the 20th minute they had something to show for it as Sam Kerr brilliantly played in Tameka Yallop, who provided a smashing finish to make it 1-0.

"If you look at that technical action that [Kerr] did with that assist to [Yallop], with a brilliant finish, nice combination play straight from the training park that we've worked on as well," Matildas head coach, Tony Gustavsson said.

"And that flick that Sam did and the finishing from [Yallop] is beautiful goal."

Kerr, scoreless in her past five games for the Matildas - despite coming off a Golden Boot season with Chelsea in Europe - doubled Australia's lead not long after, with a bullet header from Steph Catley's corner kick, proving too strong for New Zealand goalkeeper, Erin Nayler.

"We know she's brilliant with her head as well," Gustavsson explained.

"We've said from day one, it needs to be a collective attack, and it was the collective attack that won us this game, but obviously it's good that Sam gets more involved... and that's something that we've worked very hard on as well, to get her more on the ball."

Australia's defensive unit looked insurmountable until a late Gabi Rennie goal made for a tense final few minutes.

However, the Aussies held firm for a well-deserved opening victory.

In other Group G - or, 'group of death' - news, Sweden suprisingly took down Team USA 3-0 in a shock result that will no doubt shake up the tournament.

Australia faces the in-form Swedes in its next match-up on Saturday night.