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Cup of Nations: Australia beats NZ, SKorea thumps Argentina

February 28, 2019
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Australia's Hayley Raso, right, clears the ball past New Zealand's Ali Riley, center, during their Cup of Nations soccer game in Sydney, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

SYDNEY (AP) — Forward Emily Gielnik scored a minute before halftime and substitute Hayley Raso clinched the match for Australia in the 75th as the Matildas beat New Zealand 2-0 in Cup of Nations women’s soccer on Thursday.

It was the first game as captain for Sam Kerr, who was named to the post on Wednesday by new coach Ante Milicic, who was also making his debut. Milicic took over as coach after Alen Stajcic was fired last month.

It was Raso’s first appearance for Australia since she broke three vertebrae in her back last year in an on-field collision, after which there were concerns she may not walk again. She had already created chances on Thursday in the three minutes she’d been on before collecting a ball from Amy Harrison and placing a low right-footer through for the clinching goal.

The Cup of Nations is a warm-up tournament for the World Cup in France in June.

Earlier, South Korea outclassed Argentina 5-0 in the opening match of the tournament doubleheader at Leichardt Oval.

Mira Moon scored in the fourth minute, then Hwayeon Son, Sodam Lee, and Soyun Ji twice, piled on in the second half.

On Sunday, Australia plays South Korea, and New Zealand takes on Argentina in Brisbane.

Next Wednesday, Australia plays Argentina, and New Zealand plays South Korea in Melbourne.

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