The Football Ferns have given their Olympic preparations a massive boost by beating China 3-1 in Auckland today, their first win in 13 attempts against the Chinese.
After 12 previous losses stretching back to 1991, New Zealand never trailed at Centre Park taking a ninth minute lead through Hayley Moorwood, who played on after Li Jiayue seemingly handled Sarah Gregorius’ shot inside the area, and coolly slotted past Wang Fei.
Gregorius doubled the lead in the 28th minute, stabbing home an attacking corner after headers from Amber Hearn and Rebecca Smith kept the ball alive.
China suffered from a lack of chances, as New Zealand dominated possession and dictated terms for most of the encounter, but reduced the deficit with 20 minutes remaining thanks to a simple but effective free kick from Xu Yanlu that Zhang Rui headed past Jenny Bindon.
Emma Kete broke the offside trap two minutes later but her lob hit the post as did Hearn’s shot in the 83rd minute, but in between Hearn was on target with a swerving shot into the bottom corner after interplay from Kete, Gregorius and Kirsty Yallop.
Hearn’s strike was her 29th in ‘A’ internationals, equalling a record set by Wendy Sharpe who was recognised before the match with her official commemorative blazer.
The victory stretches the Football Ferns unbeaten streak to seven matches in 2012, but it was the snapped losing streak against the world number 18 that was a bigger pointer for New Zealand coach Tony Readings moving towards the Olympics.
“It’s a massive result for us,” Readings said.
“China may not be the world power they once were in terms of rankings but you can see the technical ability they have and the fact there are no weak players in their side.
“We’ve never beaten or drawn against them so to get a win, and a pretty comprehensive one in the end is massive for us and a big step forwards today towards what we want to achieve at the Olympics.”
New Zealand can now clinch a rare series win with another positive result in the second of two tests at North Harbour Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Football Ferns have drawn Great Britain, Brazil and Cameroon at the Olympics beginning on July 25 in Cardiff against the hosts.
New Zealand 3 (Hayley MOORWOOD 9’, Sarah GREGORIUS 28’, Amber HEARN 77’)
China 1 (ZHANG Rui 70’)
1-Jenny BINDON (GK), 2-Ria PERCIVAL (3-Anna GREEN 62’), 4-Katie HOYLE (16-Annalie LONGO 85’), 5-Abbey ERCEG, 6-Rebecca SMITH (captain / 13-Rebekah STOTT 46’), 7-Ali RILEY, 8-Hayley MOORWOOD (12-Betsy HASSETT 62’), 9-Amber HEARN, 10-Sarah GREGORIUS, 11-Kirsty YALLOP, 15-Emma KETE.
Substitutes not used: 14-Holly PATTERSON, 17-Hannah WILKINSON, 18-Katie BOWEN, 19-Kristy HILL, 20-Rebecca ROLLS (RGK).
22-WANG Fei (GK), 2-CHEN Miaomiao, 4-LI Jiayue, 6-REN Guixin (21-WANG Lisi 82’), 10-MA Xiaoxu (captain / 23-GONG Qian 46’), 11-LOU Jiahui (8-FENG Yadi 86’), 12-ZENG Ying, 14-LIU Shukun (16-WANG Xin 30’ / 18-HAN Peng 58’), 17-PANG Fengyue, 19-ZHOU Feifei (15-XU Yanlu 67’), 25-ZHANG Rui.
Substitutes not used: 1-ZHANG Yue (GK), 3-SONG Xiangjie, 7-GAO Qi.
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