Aussies draw with Kiwis in Rio farewell
FOOTBALL: Australia have been held to a 1-1 draw by an impressive New Zealand on Tuesday night in their farewell game before the Rio Olympics.
Aussie captain Lisa De Vanna's excellent long-range strike cancelled out Katie Bowen's deft lob with both goals scored in the second half.
De Vanna's 39th goal for Australia denied the visitors a famous win in Melbourne, with New Zealand having last beaten the Matildas in 1994.
The draw saw Australia's women stretch their undefeated streak to eight games.
Australia made four changes from their line-up in Ballarat with Lydia Williams, Laura Alleway, Emily van Egmond and Kyah Simon getting promoted.
The first half had plenty of intensity but both teams struggled to create clear-cut chances.
New Zealand were much more competitive than on Saturday, with the two best opportunities falling their way.
Abby Erceg's flick-on from a corner just needed a team-mate at the back post to score, while Hannah Wilkinson should have done better when she shot straight at Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams.
The Aussies finally forced a save in the 50th minute with Erin Nayler tipping Kyah Simon's drive over the bar.
But the Football Ferns continued to cause Australia problems - Erceg's header crashed against the crossbar in the 55th minute.
New Zealand deservedly took the lead 10 minutes later as Bowen smashed the ball over Williams and in off the crossbar.
Amber Hearn should have doubled the Kiwis' lead in the 72nd minute but missed with Williams stranded and De Vanna made the visitors pay soon after, curling her shot inside the far post after cutting in from the right flank.
The home side thought they had clinched victory in the 86th minute but Michelle Heyman was offside, while Nayler made a top save to deny Laura Alleway in the final minute.
The Matildas will regroup in Brazil in early July, with their Olympics campaign starting on August 3 against Canada.
New Zealand will play their first game at Rio 2016 on the same day against world champions United States.
Football Federation Australia