Soccer: Football Ferns win Valais Cup

Football Fern Abby Erceg during the New Zealand v Brazil game at the Valais Cup at Chatel-St-Denis Switzerland.
Football Fern Abby Erceg during the New Zealand v Brazil game at the Valais Cup at Chatel-St-Denis Switzerland.

The Football Ferns claimed their first piece of silverware outside Oceania in 38 years by thumping China 4-0 in the final of the Valais Cup in Switzerland this morning.

After upsetting traditional powerhouses Brazil 1-0 in their opening match on Monday, a clinical second half performance sealed the tournament win in Savièse, their first trophy outside their confederation since winning the Asian Cup in 1975.

After Hannah Wilkinson headed in a Ria Percival freekick in the 53rd minute, New Zealand put the foot down and the result never looked in doubt.

Substitute Helen Collins made instant impact to set up an unmarked Amber Hearn in the 65th minute who then created Rosie White's 84th minute tap in after Zhang Yui could only tip her long range effort on to the woodwork.

Hearn, named player of the tournament, then capped the win with her second goal of the match and 35th of her international career with a clever set piece move two minutes from fulltime.

New Zealand coach Tony Readings said the win marked a number of important milestones for the Football Ferns.

"We keep calling on these players to get better every game and by winning this tournament and backing up the Brazil win we've taken more big steps forward.

"It was also important for our team to beat China away from home as that again is something we've never done before.

"We're still working towards major goals in 2015 and 2016 but we will savour winning this tournament and the progress it represents for us.

While Readings acknowledges the first half wasn't an improvement on the performance against Brazil, he praised the ruthless response after the break.

"It's nice to win a trophy but the clinical performance in the second half is a big plus. We've never done that against a team of this calibre so adding that piece to the jigsaw is massive for us."

Defence dominated in a scrappy first half with New Zealand centre backs Abby Erceg and Rebecca Stott impressing and allowing China few chances. That, and the weight of possession New Zealand enjoyed, laid a platform for the second half onslaught.

"We've developed a new style of play but still remain stubborn in defence," noted Readings.

"We've kept two very good teams in Brazil and China scoreless and our keepers weren't really tested today.

"We are trusting ourselves to keep the ball and wear teams down. You could see China tiring and the first goal broke their spirit. After the second goal the game was over.

"That's a few games now where we've worn teams down through possession and scored in the second half."

Among the substitutes, seventeen-year-old Cantabrian Meikayla Moore made her senior debut late in the second half.

Next up for the Football Ferns is a pair of glamour matches against Olympic champions and World number one USA in San Francisco in October 27 and Columbus, Ohio on October 30.

Valais Cup 2013 Final
New Zealand 4 (Hannah Wilkinson 63', Amber Hearn 65', 88; Rosie White 84')
China 0

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