New Zealand’s second-half comeback against geographical rival Australia was cut short on Thursday, with Australia holding on for a 3-2 victory.
New Zealand forward — Sarah Gregorius scored twice in the second half — in the 56th minute and 83rd minute — but it wasn’t enough to rescue a draw for New Zealand, who trailed 3-0 at halftime.
Emily van Egmond put Australia ahead in the 9th minute and Michelle Heyman doubled the lead three minutes later to get the Matildas off to a fast start. Caitlin Foord scored just before the half-hour mark to make it 3-0 in what looked like would be a comfortable win for Australia, ranked No. 10 in the world.
But No. 18-ranked New Zealand fought back to make a game of it, as the Football Ferns often do.
“In the first half we were waiting for things to happen and in the second half we made things happen but the mountain was that little bit too high to climb in the end,” New Zealand coach Tony Readings said.
Next up for New Zealand is a pair of matches against Spain, followed by major tests against reigning world champions Japan, and the United States. New Zealand pulled out of the Cyprus Cup in favor of two matches against Spain. On Sunday New Zealand drew North Korea in the first match of the Women’s International Tri-Series in Auckland.
Readings’ preferred lineup is pretty clear after two similar starting XIs in the two matches:
Australia leaves the series with a pair of wins after defeating North Korea, 2-1 on Tuesday. Heyman also scored in that match, netting the game-winner. Australia heads to the Cyprus Cup in March to face England, Finland and the Netherlands in the group stage.
Casey Dumont, who just turned 23 years old, started in goal for Australia against New Zealand. Australia coach Alen Stajcic was more experimental in his two lineups:
Australia Starting XI vs. North Korea: Brianna Davey, Servet Uzunlar, Hayley Crawford (Danielle Brogan), Clare Polkinghorne, Stephanie Catley (Caitlin Foord 45′) Elise Kellond-Knight (Teresa Polias), Katrina Gorry (Alanna Kennedy), Nicola Bolger, Michelle Heyman (Kyah Simon), Ashleigh Sykes (Lisa De Vanna), Larissa Crummer
Australia Starting XI vs. New Zealand: Casey Dumont (Brianna Davey), Hayley Raso, Clare Polkinghorne, Danielle Brogan, Elise Kellond-Knight, Tersa Polias, Emily van Egmond (Aivi Luik), Katrina Gorry (Alanna Kennedy), Lisa De Vanna, Caitlin Foord (Amy Harrison), Michelle Heyman (Kyah Simon)
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