New Zealand are out of the FIFA Women’s World Cup after an agonising scoreless draw with Switzerland denied them their first-ever progression to the knockout stages.
The draw meant New Zealand could only go through to the Round of 16 if Norway and the Philippines were deadlocked at Auckland’s Eden Park.
But the Norwegians demolished the Philippines 6-0 to edge New Zealand out of the tournament on goal difference.
The Football Ferns certainly had their opportunities at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin where 25,947 braved a chilly evening to get behind both sides.
Statistically, the Ferns created the most chances, with 12 shots compared to the three from the Swiss.
However, matches aren’t won by statistics.
In the first half, New Zealand’s best chance came from the enterprising Jacqui Hand whose snap shot rebounded off the far post.
Hand, one of New Zealand’s best players at the tournament, suffered an ankle injury late in the first half and played the rest of the game with it strapped.
At half-time, New Zealand looked the side most likely to take control of the match.
In the second spell, the Swiss played clever, packing their defence and disrupting the rhythm of New Zealand’s play.
At no stage were they in a hurry to play, knowing a draw was enough for them to go through as winners of the group.
As the clock ran down, and coach Jitka Klimková exhausted her subs’ bench, the Ferns threw players forward, including goalkeeper Vic Esson who went into the Swiss box three times for set pieces, and even getting her head to one cross.
Eight minutes of added time did not get the Ferns the goal they needed; it just added to the agony for fans at the stadium and those watching at home.
The final whistle signalled the end of a tense match, and the end of a cup campaign in which New Zealand became the first home country to bow out at the group stage.
It’s difficult to comprehend that a side can miss out on the knockout stages, having conceded only one goal at the tournament.
Tomorrow, New Zealand fans will start deciding which team will carry their support for the rest of the tournament …
(New Zealand / Switzerland)
Shots: 7 / 2
Shots on target: 0 / 1
Possession: 52% / 48%
Passes: 255 / 249
Pass accuracy: 77% / 77%
Fouls committed: 3 / 6
Offsides: 2 / 0
Corners: 2 /2
(New Zealand / Switzerland)
Shots: 12 / 3
Shots on target: 3 / 2
Possession: 49% / 51%
Passes: 468 / 500
Pass accuracy: 71% / 75%
Fouls committed: 6 / 13
Offsides: 2 /1
Corners: 5 / 4
Games played on Sunday July 30, 2023
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
New Zealand 0
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Norway 6 (Sophie Román Haug 6′, 17′, 90+5′, Caroline Graham Hansen 31′, own goal 48′, Guro Reiten 53′ pen)
Vic Esson, Ali Riley (captain) Katie Bowen. Rebekah Stott (Claudia Bunge 62′), CJ Bott, Malia Steinmetz, Ria Percival (Grace Jale 72′), Annalie Longo (Betsy Hassett 62′), Olivia Chance (Indiah-Paige Riley 46′), Jacqui Hand, Hannah Wilkinson (Gabi Rennie 82′).
Subs not used: Erin Nayler, Anna Leat, Daisy Cleverley, Michaela Foster, Liz Anton, Paige Satchell, Milly Clegg.
Gaelle Thalmann, Eseosa Aigbogun, Noelle Maritz, Julia Stierli, Nadine Riesen, Lia Waelti, Coumba Sow, Geraldine Reuteler (Alisha Lehmann 71′), Seraina Piubel (Viola Calligaris 85′), Ana Crnogorcevic (Meriame Terchoun 90+4′), Ramona Bachmann (Sandrine Mauron 85′).
Subs not used: Livia Peng, Lara Marti, Laura Felber, Amira Arfaoui, Marion Rey, Luana Buehler, Fabienne Humm, Seraina Friedli.
Referee: Tori Penso (United States)
Assistant referees: Brooke Mayo (United States, Mijensa Rensch (Suriname)
Fourth official: Iuliana Demetrescu (Romania)
Video assistant referee: Nicolas Gallo (Colombia)
Assistant VAR: Juan Soto (Venezuelo)
Offside VAR: Leslie Vasquez (Chile)