England took on New Zealand in a Group B encounter at the Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion Dresden. “The Three Lions” came back from a deficit and won the match 2-1.
The English team had their first promising chance in the 11th minute, when Ellen White intercepted a pass by a New Zealand player and went on to attempt a shot from inside the box. But her shot was blocked and went out for a corner.
New Zealand tried to use their wings to challenge England and were successful in the 18th minute, when the “All Whites” took advantage of a defensive error by Faye White. White underestimated a pass to Amber Hearn on the left side and the New Zealand player went past her English opponent to deliver a perfect ball to the centre of the box. Sarah Gregorius netted the ball into the English goal from a short distance, while England’s Casey Stone and Rachel Unitt were unable to stop her attempt on target.
England had more possession throughout the first half, but failed to convert them into scoring opportunities. Star skipper Kelly Smith’s long range off-target shot in the 34th minute was one of the rare chances by the English team.
The English team was lucky not concede a second goal in the 38th minute, when Casey Stoney produced another mistake in the backline to see New Zealand striker Gregorius off to the box and a virtual 2-0 for the “All Whites”. But Rachel Unitt rushed back quickly and managed to stop Gregorius with a well-timed tackle.
Everyone expected England coach Hope Powell to fire up her wards at half-time. But it was New Zealand, who came out of the lemon break as the better organised side.
New Zealand almost increased their lead in the 47th minute, when a cross from the right side found Amber Hearn in the middle of the box. But Hearn’s header went over the crossbar to the fortune of the English team.
But the team from New Zealand had their difficulties as the game progressed and England looked like the fitter side on the pitch, which paid off in the 63rd minute. A well-timed Alex Scott cross from the right flank was met by an excellent header on-target by Jill Scott. Keeper Jenny Bindon had no chance to stop the powerful header as England levelled the score.
England increased the pressure after the equaliser as Kelly Smith fired in a cracking shot which whizzed half a yard wide of Jenny Bindon’s left-hand post.
New Zealand somehow managed to get back into the game minutes later and had a few good attempts on the English box. But England replied well to the pressure at the other end and scored a second goal in the 81st minute. A cross from the left flank found Jill Scott in the New Zealand box, who cleverly laid off the ball to an on-rushing substitute Jessica Clarke. Clarke made no mistake and fired the ball into the net to give her team a 2-0 lead.
England had the opportunity to make it 3-0 a few moments later, but New Zealand keeper Bindon denied “The Three Lions” a third goal.
Hope Powell’s team scored a vital win in their ambition to book a place in the quarterfinals. The English team will face Japan in their final group match, while New Zealand will take on Mexico.
Group B – Matchday 6
New Zealand 1-2 England
MATCH IN PROGRESS
1-0 Sarah GREGORIUS (18′)
1-1 Jill SCOTT (63′)
1-2 Jessica CLARKE (81′)
1-Jenny BINDON; 2-Ria PERCIVAL (71′ 13-Rosie WHITE), 3-Anna GREEN, 5-Abby ERCEG, 6-Rebecca SMITH, 7-Ali RILEY; 4-Katie HOYLE, 12-Betsy HASSETT, 18-Katie BOWEN (46′ 8-Hayley MOORWOOD); 9-Amber HEARN, 10-Sarah GREGORIUS (90′ 17-Hannah WILKINSON)
1-Kirsty YALLOP, 14-Sarah McLAUGHLIN, 15-Emma KETE, 16-Annalie LONGO, 19-Kristy HILL, 20-Aroon CLANSEY, 21-Erin NAYLER
1-Karen BARDSLEY, 2-Alex SCOTT, 3-Rachel UNITT, 5-Faye WHITE [C] (86′ 15-Sophie BRADLEY), 6-Casey STONEY; 4-Jill SCOTT, 8-Fara WILLIAMS, 9-Ellen WHITE; 11-Rachel YANKEY (65′ 7-Jessica CLARKE), 10-Kelly SMITH, 14-Eniola ALUKO (46′ 12-Karen CARNEY)
13-Rachel BROWN, 16-Stephanie HOUGHTON, 17-Laura BASSETT, 18-Anita ASANTE, 19-Dunia SUSI, 20-Claire RAFFERTY, 21-Siobhan CHAMBERLAIN
Therese NEGUEL (CMR)
Tempa NDAH (BEN), Lidwine RAKOTOZAFINORO (MAD)
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