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The Football Ferns have been knocked out of the Fifa Women’s World Cup following a 0-0 draw against Switzerland in Dunedin tonight.
A draw ensured Switzerland, who have been based in Dunedin, are placed in the top 16, with their players stampeding on to the field at the final whistle.
Norway thumped the Philippines 6-0 in the other Group A clash, for Norway and Switzerland to advance.
The Ferns put in a gallant effort, showing just how badly they wanted to make the cut, but just lacked the execution to find the back of the net.
They had the support behind them too, in a historic evening with the largest football crowd to grace Dunedin of 25,947 willing them on.
But it just was not enough to get the hosts past the pool stages, bowing out of the tournament early.
Katie Bowen was sensational for the Ferns, instrumental in keeping the Swiss attack at bay and was everywhere across the park.
But the whole Ferns line had more punch from the outset than it did against the Philippines, forcing the Swiss into 16 turnovers in the opening 12 minutes.
Ramona Bachmann was penalised in front of the box, with Bowen taking the free kick and the home side unable to make anything from it.
That was really the story of the first half for the Ferns. They created plenty of chances but just could not execute in the right part of the field.
Jacqui Hand’s screaming shot from out wide skimmed the left post - and who knows how different things could have been if that had reached its target?
Still the Ferns created opportunities, having seven attempts at goal to Switzerland’s one in the first 30 minutes.
But once the Swiss managed to string phases together on attack, they were troublesome.
Eseosa Aigbogun pushed Coumba Sow in to space but nothing came from it. Seraina Piubel also took her shot later in the half, but it went begging too.
That momentum carried into the second half for the Swiss, with chances striking thick and fast.
The Ferns became slightly unraveled, with their passes not connecting to one another and accuracy becoming an issue.
It gave Switzerland more space to move. Piubel had another chance, only to be stopped by Bowen.
Piubel caused problems for the Ferns defence, taking the ball up field and shifting it to Bachmann. She was troubled by CJ Bott, resulting in a Swiss corner.
But that landed in the safe hands of goalkeeper Victoria Esson, much to the delight of the crowd.
Piubel had another chance midway through, but sliced it down the side of goal.
The Ferns left their first real chance of the second half until the 73rd minute.
Replacement Claudia Bunge’s header was also saved in the 79th minute as was Hand’s in the 87th.
In additional time, Meriame Terchoun was penalised just outside of the box.
Desperate to make something from the free kick, Esson joined her troops in the box and connected with the ball, but her header just went wide.
Fifa Women’s World Cup
Football Ferns 0