USA register first win over New Zealand

New Zealand’s coaching staffs will be scratching their heads over what went wrong in gifting USA a perfect start to their Group C match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup played under lights at the PNG Football Stadium in Port Moresby.

USA maintained the lead on the Kiwis throughout the match grabbing their first win, 3 -1. USA kept their perfect start to dominate New Zealand in all facets of play in the first half to take a 2-0 lead into the break.

USA midfielder Ashley Sanchez will not believe her luck in the 3rd minute of the match, when New Zealand defender gifted the ball to her outside the 15 metre mark and she made the Oceania Champions pay by hitting the back of the net.

The three-time champions increased their lead five minutes later through the boot of skipper Mallory Pugh.

Pugh who is part of the USA women’s national team proved a handful for the New Zealand defenders with her ball control.

Pugh worked wonders, showing her individual brilliance and experience dribbling past a New Zealand defender before hitting a perfect shot, off-balance 15 metres out, to score. The only attempt to score by New Zealand was in the 37th minute when Jasmine Pereira, made a desperate strike outside the penalty box which went across the goal mouth.

The script did not change in the second half for the New Zealanders, who found a brickwall of a five women last line of defense of USA hard to slip through easily.

But the Kiwis managed to sneak a goal  past the USA defense from their first corner of the match in the 76th minute to Isabella Coombes to cut the deficit by one point. This resulted in a change from the bench which payed dividends as substitute striker Ally Watt scored to put USA in front 3-1 in the 82nd minute.

Watt placed the ball to the right of Nadia Olla who had no chance of stopping it. In front of 2,399 spectators, the US women maintained their lead to inflict New Zealand’s first defeat in two matches.

The USA captain was awarded the player of the match after another steely performance. In the earlier Group C encounter, France broke the hearts of the Ghanaians in the final minute of the game to score an equaliser for a 2-2 draw.


Charles Yapumi