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Matildas ease past New Zealand in Cup of Nations opener

13:20 GMT+3 28/02/2019
Matildas
A solid start to the inaugural tournament for Australia

The Matildas have edged past New Zealand 2-0 in front of 6,805 fans at Leichhardt Oval to start their Cup of Nations campaign on the right foot. 

After a cagey start, the Matildas nearly roared to life in the 25th minute when Elise Kellond-Knight struck the woodwork with a fierce free-kick.

In the 39th minute Emily Van Egmond should have put Australia in front as she shot wide from right in front after a pin-point cross from Steph Catley.

Emily Gielnik would make no mistake in the 44th minute however as she buried a deflected cross to hand the Matildas a 1-0 lead heading into half-time.

After the break, new coach Ante Milicic looked to inject some energy into the Matildas side making four substitutions just after the hour mark. 

Minutes later Hayley Raso was also introduced with the Brisbane Roar attacker doubling the Matildas lead in the 75th minute.

Raso driving the ball low and hard past the New Zealand keeper from the top of the box to complete her incredible recovery from a broken back just six months ago. 

New Zealand rarely offered much of a threat in the final third as the Matildas eased to a 2-0 win ahead of Sunday's clash against Korea Republic.