A brilliant United States goal after 42 seconds sent the New Zealand women's soccer team on the path to a 0-4 loss and Olympic Games oblivion in Shenyang early this morning.
New Zealand went into the group G match hoping to beat the world No 1 to reach the Games quarterfinals, after drawing with Japan and a narrow loss to Norway.
The stuffing was knocked out of that ambition just as the echoes of the national anthems died away, when US midfielder Heather O'Reilly latched on to a loose ball and let fly from 40 metres.
New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon saw it coming but there was nothing she could do as it sailed over her outstretched hand into the top right corner.
The stunned Football Ferns took time to work back into the game, surviving on scraps and staving off waves of US attacks.
Just when it seemed they had got back on track, the US produced more magic in the 42 minute - a long ball out of defence finding a flying Amy Rodriguez, who outstripped two defenders and beat a lonely Bindon.
At halftime New Zealand trailed 0-2, with forwards Kirsty Yallop, Alexandra Riley and Amber Hearn all creating half chances.
Hearn had a better than half chance seven minutes after halftime, latching on to a Yallop through ball but only managing a gentle prod into the arms of goalkeeper Hope Solo.
Three minutes later the Football Ferns failed to clear their box, giving the Americans three shots at the net, with Lindsay Tarpley eventually knocking it home.
Angela Hucles completed the demolition, collecting a rebound off the crossbar to loft the ball over Bindon, who managed to get a touch.
New Zealand had three shots on goal, to 12, and two corners to four by the US.
In the other game in the group, Japan upset Norway 5-1.