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Football Ferns' World Cup hopes slashed as Canada cruise to victory

The Football Ferns have been all but knocked out of this year's Women's World Cup in France, falling 2-0 to Canada in Grenoble to sit bottom of Group E.

Coming into the match in a must-not-lose scenario after their opening defeat to the Netherlands, the Ferns fell behind early in the second half as midfielder Jessie Fleming opened the scoring.

Canadian attacking-midfielder Nichelle Prince burst down the New Zealand right flank, before her pullback into the box was fired home by an unmarked Fleming.

The Football Ferns' cause wasn't helped with an injury to right-back CJ Bott - forcing a defensive re-shuffle with Meikayla Moore ruled out before the tournament. 

Halftime saw some respite for New Zealand, Canada in complete control with 73 per cent possession, and 13 attempts on goal - although just two found the target.

Striker Sarah Gregorious was substituted in a confusing move from coach Tom Sermanni, bringing defender Anna Green on as a replacement.

New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler kept the Football Ferns in the contest, twice coming to the rescue to deny Prince, the second a stunning effort to tip over the bar from a header.

Prince would seal the result with just over 10 minutes to play, on hand to prod home after striker Christine Sinclair's effort hit the post, leaving Nayler stranded.

Rosie White had a chance to claw a goal back deep into injury time, however the Kiwi forward's effort was nodded just wide of goal.

Canada will next face the Netherlands, with the winner to take top spot in Group E and a favourable draw into the round of 16.

The defeat leaves Tom Sermanni's side needing other results to go their way, pointless from their opening two games, and with a slim chance of qualifying for the knockout stage with the four best third placed teams advancing.

However with Nigeria, China and Australia all currently with three points and Argentina on one in the other groups, the Football Ferns' fate is out of their hands. Chile could also pip New Zealand to a knockout spot, sitting with a game in hand, and their -2 a superior goal difference to the Ferns' -3.

New Zealand face Cameroon in the hope of a first ever World Cup and possible progess into the next round win on Friday morning NZT.


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