A poor start from Fiji was all New Zealand needed to take their fourth consecutive OFC Women’s Nations Cup title.
(Fiji – New Zealand 0-8)
It only took two minutes for New Zealand to score. Fiji will feel they were as unlucky as they could be when the first ball hit the back of the net. A low cross from Sarah Gregorius was tackled away by Jotivini Tabua, but the tackle bounced right into an onrushing Rosie White and into the goal.
Then bad became worse as Gregorius was very clumsily brought down just four minutes later. The veteran striker took the penalty herself and used all her experience to calmly slot it into the bottom corner. Adi Tuwai was after the ball but couldn’t get there in time.
Fiji then got their act together and enjoyed a good spell with ventures into the New Zealand half. A couple of heavy late challenges on the defensive end saw the Tongan referee Tapaita Lelenga book Cema Nasau and a few others should probably have gone into the book as well.
Seven minutes from half-time New Zealand would get their third. Betsy Hassett was at the edge of the box after a poorly cleared corner and she sent the ball sailing into the back of the net.
If bad became worse earlier, then worse would become disaster for Fiji as four minutes from the break Nasau would get her second yellow card for another late challenge.
And in added time of the first half Meikayla Moore was at the end of a weird corner to secure New Zealand’s fourth. The ball was headed down from the back post and the defender scored almost from the touchline.
Continued second-half dominance.
It only took three minutes for New Zealand to continue where they left off in the first half. Katie Rood cut in from the left-hand side and her shot found the back of the net at Tuwai’s near post.
After 56 minutes New Zealand got their sixth as Hassett secured a brace. The cross from substitute Sarah Morton found Hassett in the box and she had no problem scoring.
The game calmed down quite some after that with New Zealand happy with how things were going. They still had the ball and made some chances but it took a while for them to get their next.
That came in the 75th minute when Sarah Gregorius popped up to tap in a rebound that Tuwai had done well to push onto the bar.
And that was also it for Tuwai who was substituted for Anaseini Maucuna three minutes later.
Maucuna was called into action immediately as a shot from Morton bounced off the crossbar and her thigh to go out for a corner.
Just minutes later she was once again making a fine save as Annalie Longo’s piledriver from distance had her stretching out to her full length to make the save.
However, she couldn’t stop New Zealand from getting an eight and final goal, despite her best efforts. White would get her brace as well when her shot sneaked through the legs of a defender, throwing off Maucuna enough that she couldn’t get down fast enough.
The win means New Zealand have yet to concede a goal in the OFC Women’s Nations Cup since 2006 when they beat Tonga 6-1. They will now represent Oceania at the 2019 France World Cup and the 2020 Olympic Games.