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Longo winner downs Portugal

After a scoreless first half, in which the New Zealand side had a goal ruled out for a foul as the ball crossed the line, the Football Ferns scored the winner in the 69th minute as Annalie Longo lobbed the ball over the Portugal goalkeeper at the back post.
The result, combined with Russia’s 3-0 defeat by Brazil, sees the Football Ferns finish second in Group B and Tony Readings’ side will complete their Algarve Cup campaign on Thursday morning (NZ time) with a playoff match against the second-placed side in Group A – set to be determined later on Tuesday morning.
Readings said he felt his side were good value for the result on the back of a performance which saw the team manage the game effectively throughout.
“There was a big wind which we played into in the first half and we handled that quite well,” Readings said.
“We created a few chances and in general we thought we did quite well and we were disappointed not to go in at least one goal up.
“We’ve created really good chances in this tournament and not taken them and then the goal we have got is a scrappy one.
“But we’re happy to take the goal however it comes and it was coming and then we were able to see the game out quite comfortably we thought in the end.”
The Football Ferns had the ball over the line 20 minutes into the contest from Anna Green’s wide free kick but the goal was chalked off for a foul by Amber Hearn on the Portugal goalkeeper.
Ria Percival proved the New Zealand side’s most potent threat in the first half hour, the fullback delivering several telling crosses into the Portugal penalty area but each of them went unrewarded as the hosts scrambled clear. Fellow fullback Green’s set piece delivery was also causing issues for the hosts with a succession of in-swinging corners and free kicks making life difficult for the Portugal rear guard.
The best chance of the opening 45 minutes fell to Rosie White who neatly brought down a high cross into the area before turning and firing just over the Portugal crossbar.
At the other end, goalkeeper Rebecca Rolls – who started the match in place of number one goalkeeper Erin Nayler – had little to do but the New Zealand ‘keeper was thankful just after the half hour mark as a sharp turn in the area produced a shooting chance for the hosts which was dragged wide.
Early in the second period the Football Ferns survived a Portugal shout for a penalty after defender Rebekah Stott collided with an attacker in the penalty area but the referee waved play on.
The second half continued as the first had unfolded with regular sights of goal tough to come by for both sides until the 69th minute when the New Zealand side broke quickly downfield.
A cross came in from the left flank and Longo arrived late to turn it goal wards over the leap of both Amber Hearn and the Portugal goalkeeper to confirm the result for Readings’ team. The final margin might have been 2-0 but Sarah Gregorius’ well-taken stoppage time header was ruled out for offside.
Readings said the team is now looking forward to their playoff match against the second-placed side in Group A, a match will provide a strong opponent regardless of who is confirmed in the slot.
“What the other group has shown is that it’s pretty close. Canada are the only team that have qualified for the Olympics from that group yet there are two good European teams in there in Denmark and Iceland.”
“They have shown with Denmark beating Canada and then Iceland comfortably beating Denmark, no matter who we play in the next game it’s going to be a challenge.
“This for us really replicates a quarter-final for us at the Olympics and that’s what we’re working towards.”
Algarve Cup 2016 – Group B
Tuesday 8 March (NZ time)
Portugal 0-1 New Zealand (half: 0-0)
POR: –
NZL: Annalie Longo 69’
New Zealand: 21. Rebecca Rolls (GK), 2. Ria Percival, 3. Anna Green (18. CJ Bott 46’), 4. Katie Duncan, 5. Abby Erceg (capt), 6. Rebekah Stott, 9. Amber Hearn, 12. Betsy Hassett, 13. Rosie White (10. Sarah Gregorius 46’), 14. Katie Bowen (11. Kirsty Yallop 60’), 16. Annalie Longo
Substitutes not used: 1. Erin Nayler (GK), 7. Ali Riley, 8. Jasmine Pereira, 15. Meikayla Moore, 20. Daisy Cleverley, 24. Kate Loye, 25. Aimee Phillips
Coach: Tony Readings
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football

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