Football Ferns fade against world champions

New Zealand Ferns lost its second match at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Picture: RNZ/FILE

The Football Ferns were defeated 6-1 by reigning world champions USA in their second group game of the Tokyo Olympics.

The USA, having lost their opening game 3-0 against Sweden, were ruthless in Saitama Stadium, as they fought to reignite their Olympic campaign.

Lindsay Horan, Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan and Christen Press each scored a goal, with two own goals from New Zealand making up the remainder.

The score was in danger of being even more lopsided as the Americans had four goals disallowed in the first half on offsides calls.

Betsy Hassett scored the lone goal for the Football Ferns in the 72nd minute.

The USA scored their final three goals in the last 10 minutes of the match.

While the final score line was disappointing, Football Ferns coach Tom Sermanni said there were some positives to take from the performance.

“From our perspective, I thought we had a terrific 80 minutes and unfortunately the last 10 minutes kind of let us down a little bit on the scoreline,” Sermanni said

“But from an effort perspective, I can’t fault the players, they gave blood, sweat and tears on the field tonight to come up against a very good team.

“The effort was first-class. What we just need to do again is, if we could fulfill the game plan for the full 90 minutes, then I think the score line would have been a bit more respectable.”

Football Ferns captain Ali Riley said the score line “hurt”.

“I thought it was much braver than we’ve probably ever played in terms of combining and actually getting in behind and scoring on the number one ranked team in the world,” Riley said.

“So I think we can take so much positive from the game, but obviously it hurts to have that score line.

“I think at the end, for every good cross we had, we had some really poor defending, myself included.

“So I think it’s just now, can we actually get a complete 90 minutes where we can come into the locker room and be completely proud and satisfied with our performance? We have one more chance to do it.”

Elsewhere in Group G, Sweden recovered to continue their dominant run with a 4-2 comeback win over Australia.

Sweden were on the front foot with a first-half Fridolina Rolfo strike before Australia captain Sam Kerr equalised just before halftime.

In a goal-laden second half, Kerr handed the Matildas a 2-1 lead, only for Sweden to score three quickfire goals courtesy of Lina Hurtig, Stina Blackstenius and Rolfo’s second.

There was still room for more drama at Saitama Stadium as Australia earned a late penalty but Kerr was denied a hat-trick as goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl saved her spot kick and Sweden held on to claim all three points and top Group G.

The Football Ferns face Sweden for their final group game on 27 July in Miyagi.

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