The world champion United States showed the gulf between them and the under-strength Football Ferns, punishing the New Zealanders with a ruthless 5-0 win at Auckland’s Eden Park.
The game set a new record for a Ferns game played in New Zealand, with 12,721 spectators eclipsing the record of 12,508 set in Wellington only four days earlier.
The Ferns gave all they had but the United States were player-for-player more skillful and together more organised.
Both sides had to make changes for the game.
New Zealand coach Jitka Klimková was unable to make use of Betsy Hassett or Grace Neville who had played well in Wellington, or Indiah-Page Riley, as all were required by their clubs as the game fell outside of the FIFA international window.
The game did create the opportunity to give debuts to Eastern Suburbs duo Tayla O’Brien and Deven Jackson.
The United States had rotated their squad to ensure players had their share of gametime during their time in New Zealand.
But they didn’t reckon on losing captain and star player Alex Morgan before the kick-off but were forced into a late change when she reported a tightened lower leg.
New Zealand paired Elizabeth Anton and Ally Green as the centre back combo, tasked with trying to stop the World Champions who showed in Wellington how well they exploit any space up the middle.
The Ferns did well for the first quarter of the game, keeping the United States goalless and managing the occasional foray forward to the delight of the big Eden Park crowd.
The United States took the lead in the 22nd minute when Trinity Rodman put a ball through for Ashley Hatch — on the pitch as the late replacement for Morgan — and she controlled, aimed and pulled the trigger, shooting wide of goalkeeper Erin Nayler.
Main photo: Ashley Hatch (7) places her shot wide of the diving Erin Nayler to score.
The visitors doubled their lead in the 39th minute when Sofia Huerta swung a cross into the penalty area and Rose Lavelle ghosted behind two Fern defenders to steer the ball past Nayler and into the net.
At half-time, both coaches made changes, with Klimková giving a debut to Eastern Suburbs’ Deven Jackson, who becomes Football Fern #201.
The United States did not take long to extend their lead.
Substitute Emily Fox travelled down the left flank, cut inside and crossed the back post. New Zealand’s Ashleigh Ward turned the ball into the path of Mallory Swanson who belted it into the roof of the net.
In the 74th minute, stand-in captain Lavelle scored her second of the day, to take the margin to 4-0.
Substitute Taylor Kornieck chipped a cross into the box and Lavelle got enough contact on the ball to steer it into the net.
Kornieck added the fifth goal when the tall defender was left unmarked at the far post to head the ball firmly inside the post.
For the last 10 minutes, Eastern Suburbs’ Tayla O’Brien got her chance to play as an international, coming on as a replacement for Ava Collins to become Ferns #202.
The United States never took their foot off the pedal, using their subs to give their efforts a boost and the side had several late chances when only poor finishing stopped them from running up a larger winning margin.
Nayler made a splendid save from Swanson as the game went into added time, turning the ball over the bar.
The final stats for the match told the story of the game, and underlined the gap between the sides.
New Zealand / United States
Shots: 0 / 22
Shots on target: 0 / 10
Possession: 29% / 71%
Passes: 256 / 596
Pass accuracy: 58% / 83%
Fouls: 12 / 1
Yellow cards: 0 / 1
Offsides: 0 / 3
Corners: 2 / 6
Game played on Saturday January 21, 2023
New Zealand 0
United States 5 (Ashley Hatch 22′, Rose Lavelle 38′, 74′, Mallory Swanson 53′, Taylor Kornieck 80′)
Erin Nayler, Liz Anton, Ally Green (Ashleigh Ward 32′), Anna Green, Ali Riley (captain) (Mackenzie Barry 69′), Olivia Chance, Daisy Cleverley (Emma Rolston 69′), Gabi Rennie, Ava Collins (Tayla O’Brien 81′), Grace Jale (Grace Wisnewski 46′), Paige Satchell (Deven Jackson 46′).
Subs not used: Jana Radosavljevic, Murphy Sheaff, Hannah Blake, Brianna Edwards, Jacqui Hand, Aniela Jensen.
Casey Murphy, Ashley Sanchez (Kristie Mewis 61′), Alana Cook, Sofia Huerta, Mallory Swanson, Naomi Girma (Emily Sonnett 46′), Ashley Hatch (Midge Purce 61′), Rose Lavelle, Andi Sullivan (Taylor Kornieck 61′), Crystal Dunn (Emily Fox 46′), Trinity Rodman (Lynn Williams 61′).
Subs not used: Becky Sauerbrunn, Lindsey Horan, Sam Coffey, Adrianna Franch.
Referee: Lara Lee, Assistant referees: Sarah Ho, Lauren Hargrave; fourth official: Kate Jacewicz.
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