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SheBelieves Cup

Kiwi own-goal hat trick helps US to She Believes Cup win

Los Angeles (AFP) – Three own goals by New Zealand defender Meikayla Moore helped deliver the reigning Women’s World Cup champion United States a 5-0 victory Sunday over the Football Ferns in the She Believes Cup.

Moore, who plays for Liverpool in the English Women’s Championship, knocked US crosses in the fifth, sixth and 36th minutes into the Kiwi net.

US forward Sophia Smith kicked the ball from the left side and Moore’s attempt to stop the ball with her right foot only sent it into the goal.

Seconds later, American defender Sofia Huerta charged upfield and crossed the ball from the right wing to the heart of the penalty area, where Moore deflected it into the goal.

US striker Margaret Purce charged in from the right wing into the penalty area in the 36th minute and flicked the ball in front of the goal, where it deflected into the goal off Moore’s left foot.

The 25-year-old from Christchurch slumped forward, bent at the waist, for several seconds after watching the third own goal. She was soon replaced and consoled on the sidelines.

It marked the first match the US women had ever gotten the benefit of three own goals, their pressuring early attack a byproduct of settling for a goal-less draw in their tournament opener against the Czech Republic.

“This game we just came out with a wad of energy and I think that was big for us,” Smith said.

“There was just more urgency for us to get in behind and score goals and create opportunities so I would say overall we played with energy and urgency.”

US reserve Ashley Hatch nodded home a goal off a Huerta pass in the 51st minute and Mallory Pugh scored a final goal off a feed from Hatch three minutes into stoppage time.

The Americans improved to 17-1-1 in the all-time series against New Zealand, including a 6-1 US rout at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The US women stretched their home soil unbeaten streak to 64 matches, including 57 triumphs and seven draws. They have kept 16 straight home clean sheets since last surrendering a goal in a 3-1 win over Japan in last year’s She Believes Cup.

The Americans conclude the round-robin tournament on Tuesday against Iceland, which was set to play later Sunday against the Czechs.

The Football Ferns, who opened with a 1-0 loss to Iceland, will close against the Czechs in the final double-header at Frisco, Texas.

The tournament serves as a warm-up for US qualifying for next year’s Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Paris Olympics. That North American event will be played in July at Monterrey, Mexico.

New Zealand will serve as co-hosts with Australia of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, where the United States hopes to win a record third consecutive crown.

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