Soccer: Football Ferns fall to England

Amber Hearn scored New Zealand's only goal. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Amber Hearn scored New Zealand's only goal. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Three unanswered second half goals have given England a 3-1 come-from-behind victory over New Zealand's Football Ferns at the Cyprus Cup and a place in the tournament final.

Two goals in two minutes midway through the second half set up the victory, with the result leaving New Zealand to contest the match for third place against the Group B runners up to round out their campaign.

England has proved to be New Zealand's bogey side in recent times with the Football Ferns losing 2-1 at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany in 2011 and 1-0 at the London Olympics against Great Britain - a squad which featured 16 English players and two Scots.

Despite the loss, coach Tony Readings was pleased with the performance as New Zealand continues to close the gap on the best sides in the women's game in the lead up to the Football Ferns pinnacle events.

"The game was another step on our journey to 2015 and 2016, we'll take a lot of positives from the match, but at the end of the day we've conceded three and lost the game.

"There's not much between the two sides. It's typically a physical, high-tempo match but today we dominated possession and we've never done that before and we were able slow the game down.

"We proved we can play good football against top-10 opposition and that's a good place to start building from heading into the next World Cup and Olympic Games," Readings said.

In a first half of few chances, Amber Hearn gave New Zealand a seventh minute lead after robbing an England player of possession in their defensive third beating another and smashing home from the edge of the box to give the Football Ferns a 1-0 lead going into halftime.

England were 'knocking on the door' before substitute Ellen White equalised a minute after coming on as a substitute, firing home an angled drive from the edge of the box. Eniola Aluko edged England ahead two minutes later getting the decisive touch from a lofted a free kick into the Football Ferns penalty area.

Hearn came close to equalising with two minutes remaining as New Zealand pushed forward for a draw. With caution thrown to the wind, Toni Duggan sealed the win in the final minute of regulation when she beat Erin Nayler to the ball and passed into an empty net to complete the 3-1 defeat.

England will face Canada in the Cyprus Cup final with New Zealand awaiting the Group B results to find their opponent from Finland, Netherlands or Switzerland in the match for third place.

"We've got no preference on our opponent for our last match, the three sides all play a similar style," Readings said.

The match for third place will be played in Larnaca at 1.30am on Thursday morning (NZT).

New Zealand 1 (Amber HEARN 7')
England 3 (Ellen WHITE 71'; Eniola ALUKO 73'; Toni DUGGAN 90')
Halftime: 1-0

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