The New Zealand women’s football team have stayed with the world’s top ranked USA side in Denver before finally going down 3-1.
Playing at altitude and in front of a vocal full house of nearly 18, 000 fans, the world champions enjoyed most of the possession.
A lofted ball played into the New Zealand box in the 16th minute by US captain Kelley O’Hara landed for striker Julie Ertz who hammered it into the top corner from close range.
Ertz added another goal in the 24th minute to take the US out to an early 2-0 lead.
But the Ferns held off a wave of attacks and sharp saves by Fern’s goal keeper Erin Nayler saw the experienced US side held to a two-goal lead at halftime.
The New Zealand team found their feet in the second half creating a number of scoring chances before striker Hannah Wilkinson headed in a dipping delivery
in the 79th minute.
Hopes of scoring an equaliser were dashed when USA’s Alex Morgan struck a few minutes after Wilkinson’s effort to put the US out to a 3-1 lead.
New Zealand midfielders Annalie Longo and Betsy Hassett both brought up their 100th game for New Zealand and the Football Ferns now travel to Cincinnati for the second match of the two-game series at Nippert Stadium on Wednesday.