Football Features

Canada 2-0 New Zealand: Teenager Riviere shines as Reds confirm WWC last-16 spot

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:09, 15 June 2019

Canada secured their place in the last-16 of the Women’s World Cup with a 2-0 win over New Zealand.

Following a cagey opening 45 minutes, Jessie Fleming gave Canada the lead minutes into the second half before Nichelle Prince wrapped up the win late on.

But who were the biggest winners and losers from the game?

Winner: Jayde Riviere

It shouldn’t be easy, making your World Cup debut at the age of 18, but Jayde Riviere looked like she had been on the grand stage for years.

Only starting due to injury concerns over Allysha Chapman, Riviere was a wonderful replacement at right-back. With New Zealand looking to take an early lead, Riviere was on hand to head away a dangerous cross at the far post, but her best moments came in attack.

The teenager was a constant thorn in Ali Riley’s side with her pace and link up with Nichelle Prince, which only improved once Canada started to experiment with wing-backs to unlock New Zealand’s defence.

Riviere also asked questions of the New Zealand centre-backs with her impressive crossing, though she was just lacking the killer touch from her team-mates.

Riviere was so good, her substitution 15 minutes from time was greeted by some boos from the travelling Canada fans in Grenoble.

Loser: Sarah Gregorius

Sarah Gregorius has scored more goals than any other player in the Football Ferns squad at this World Cup, though she was never given a chance to add to that tally on Saturday.

New Zealand had their backs against the wall for most of the game against Canada, defending well, but it cost them in attack. Gregorius failed to have a single shot on goal in her hour on the pitch, and looked isolated throughout.

The 31-year-old had just 19 touches of the ball, none of which came inside the Canada box, but the fact that she completed just three passes in an hour sums up how much she struggled to get into the game.

It was, therefore, no surprise that she was taken off with New Zealand looking to get back into the game, being replaced by Anna Green.

Winner: Jessie Fleming

For all their dominance in the first half, Canada really didn’t look much like scoring. This was partly due to poor attack but also down to New Zealand being tough in defence.

But that resilient defence would not last too long after half-time, thanks to Jessie Fleming. The 21-year-old was a bright spark of Canada’s laborious 1-0 win over Cameroon and continued in Saturday’s game against New Zealand.

Constantly looking to apply pressure on New Zealand’s back line, Fleming was tireless in the first half and more than once found herself in a position to hurt her opponents.

The killer touch came shortly after half-time, however. Thanks to good work from Nichelle Prince, Fleming found herself latching onto the ball eight yards out, firing past Erin Nayler to give Canada a deserved lead.

Fleming’s eighth goal overall for Canada, it was the 21-year-old’s first at a World Cup, and may go some way to reassuring her country that life whenever Christine Sinclair retires will be just fine.

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Loser: Christine Sinclair

Another game down, another missed opportunity for Christine Sinclair to edge closer to the all-time international goalscoring record.

Much like in Canada’s slender win over Cameroon, Sinclair did not have too many goalscoring opportunities against New Zealand, instead trying to link up with her team-mates, though not much was paying off.

Sinclair did have Canada’s best chance to take the lead in the first half, but her close-range header from a corner hit the crossbar. And she had another opportunity to score shortly after half-time, as Canada looked to press on their lead. After good wing play, the ball came to Sinclair on the penalty spot with the 36-year-old almost certain to score. But, perhaps disturbed by a tiny bobble, Sinclair sent her shot well over the crossbar.

There was still time for Sinclair to hit the woodwork once more before the game was up, heading against the post – though Prince tucked in the rebound.

Winner: Nichelle Prince

Forming the second part of Canada’s terrifying right-hand side against New Zealand was Nichelle Prince, who had a game to remember on Saturday evening.

The 24-year-old was unstoppable in midfield, playing a part in pretty much everything positive that Canada produced. Her understanding with defender Riviere was on another level and made it appear as though the pair play together week in, week out.

Although Fleming will get most of the recognition for Canada’s opening goal, Prince was brilliant in the build-up. Racing onto a long pass down the left, Prince beat Rebekah Stott before picking out Fleming at the far post.

And late on Prince got the goal she fully deserved, reacting quickest to finish after Sinclair’s header hit the post. There were many good Canada performances on Saturday, but Prince’s was special.

Loser: New Zealand

Now obviously New Zealand are the losers, being on the receiving end of a 2-0 defeat, but it goes deeper than just the match for the Football Ferns.

Saturday night’s game against Canada was New Zealand’s 14th at Women’s World Cups, with the Oceania side making their fifth appearance in the tournament’s history.

But of those 14 games, New Zealand are still awaiting their first win, drawing three and receiving an 11th defeat. And the truth is, they didn’t really look like changing that against Canada, being completely overrun by a vastly superior side.

Up next for New Zealand is a tricky game against Cameroon, who will take some positives from their 3-1 defeat against the Netherlands earlier on Saturday. Will the Football Ferns finally get their first World Cup win, or end a fifth campaign without one?