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Ferns go down to the USA

The New Zealand Football Ferns have gone down to the World No 1 USA 5-0 at a packed-out Busch Stadium in St Louis, Missouri.

The Tom Sermanni coached side, who were looking forward to the test of taking on the world champions in front of 35,000 fans, started promisingly but were beaten by a clinical USA side that is looking to defend their FIFA Women’s World Cup title in a few weeks’ time in France.

The USA scored twice in quick succession before half-time through Tobin Heath and Rose Lavelle, before substitute Carli Lloyd found the back of the net twice and Sam Mewis also scored late in the second half to put the game tobed.

The Football Ferns began brightly and could have scored within the first five minutes when Rosie White, who brought up her 100th cap, hit her left-foot shot over the crossbar.

New Zealand competed well and looked dangerous on the break, but they went into the sheds 2-0 down after the USA finished the half on top after two moments of real quality.

Ferns keeper Erin Nayler produced an outstanding finger-tip save to deny Alex Morgan in the 27th minute, but the States now had the momentum. The three-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champions took the lead in the 35th minute when captain Megan Rapinoe found space down the left-flank and found Heath who made a good run in behind the Ferns defensive line to tap home. It was her 29th goal for the USA.

There was more to come five minutes later when midfielder Lavelle finished well with a fine volley at the back post after good delivery from Lindsey Horan. It was Lavelle’s seventh goal for the USA and was a cruel double-blow for the Ferns who had played well without reward.

After the break, Sermanni’s side faded under the constant pressure and lack of possession, and the USA controlled the game. America’s Carli Lloyd came off the bench and scored with her first touch on the end of a well-worked team move.

Sermanni brought on Olivia Chance for Katie Duncan in the 60th minute, Anna Green made way for Paige Satchell and Hannah Wilkinson made her return from injury when she took the place of Sarah Gregorius, but the Ferns could not create any goal scoring opportunities.

The Americans always looked dangerous and the 36-year-old Lloyd added her second, for her 110th goal for her country, before Mewis hit a fine strike from distance to complete a successful night for the home team.

It was not the result the Ferns were after, but White could still reflect on an amazing achievement. She became the ninth player from New Zealand to bring up 100 caps for the Football Ferns, following in the footsteps of Ria Percival, Abby Erceg, Amber Hearn, Ali Riley, Katie Duncan, Annalie Longo, Betsy Hassett and Kirsty Yallop.

The Ferns will look to regroup from this match when they take on World No 26 Mexico in a behind-closed-doors fixture on 22 May at the Red Bull Academy in New York.

New Zealand will also take on England and Wales before the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.



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