Football Ferns finish fourth at Algarve Cup

"We didn't play as well in the first half as we would have liked," Football Ferns coach Tony Readings said. Photo / Getty Images
"We didn't play as well in the first half as we would have liked," Football Ferns coach Tony Readings said. Photo / Getty Images

The New Zealand women's football side finished fourth in their maiden Algarve Cup campaign after a dramatic 6-5 penalty shootout loss to Iceland this morning.

A 27th-minute goal from Iceland midfielder Andrea Ran Hauksdottir gave Iceland the lead but the Football Ferns levelled in the 69th minute through Amber Hearn - her 50th goal for her country.

New Zealand had a strong claim for penalty waved away in the second half after a heavy challenge on Betsy Hassett and several free-kick opportunities came and went in the dying stages as the they pressed for the winner.

Penalties were needed to decide the outcome and both teams scored each of their five spot kicks before going to sudden death where Anna Green's sixth penalty was saved and Iceland sealed the result with their sixth strike.

"We didn't play as well in the first half as we would have liked," Football Ferns coach Tony Readings said. "We were a bit under par but were still the better team but we weren't as dominant as we should have been.

"We've gone in 1-0 down but we knew we had an extra two or three gears to go up and we'd be able to claw our way back in the second half which we did."

"We're bitterly disappointed because we dominated that second half, they've hardly got in our half.

"We scored a great goal and then we had a definite penalty turned down, we missed one-on-ones and we've had lots of crosses and set plays and we've not been able to get the breakthrough. That's been the story of the tournament for us."

Readings again underlined the need for the team to find a sharper cutting edge in and around the opposition penalty area with the Rio Olympics on the schedule later this year.
"That inability to make that dominance count is still holding us back. There are some signs of improvement but we need more.

"By the Olympics, we need to be a better team in that part of the game because we did so well in so many parts but the part that makes the biggest difference is putting the ball in the net and that's something we've got to be better at."

In other playoff match results, Denmark finished seventh following a 3-1 win over hosts Portugal and Belgium earned fifth via a 5-0 victory over Russia. Canada won the tournament after a 2-1 win over Brazil in the final.

- NZ Herald

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