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Clarke rescues England against New Zealand

Jul 1, 2011 - 8:48 PM Dresden, Germany (Sports Network) - Jess Clarke came off the bench in the 65th minute to score the winning goal in a 2-1 comeback win for England over New Zealand in Group B play on Friday.

The Kiwis were poised to claim their first-ever win at a Women's World Cup when Sarah Gregorius put the team in front after 16 minutes. It was the first time that New Zealand had ever taken a lead in a World Cup game, and it held up until Jill Scott equalized in the 63rd for England.

Clarke then handed Hope Powell's team all three points when she scored nine minutes from time, putting England in second place in the group, two points behind Japan.

"We wouldn't be England if we didn't make it hard for ourselves," said England defender Alex Scott. "We dug a hole for ourselves, but we've climbed back out of it and won."

A win or draw over the Japanese on July 5 in the final day of Group B action will now put England into the quarterfinals, while New Zealand has been eliminated after losing its first two games.

New Zealand couldn't have asked for a better start when Amber Hearn set up the opening goal with a low cross from the left wing that allowed Gregorius to slip between two defenders and redirect the ball past England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley.

And the lead could have been doubled before halftime when Gregorius was played into the box, but she lost control of the ball with only Bardsley to beat.

Hearn then headed the ball over the net from inside the six-yard box in the 47th minute, but England took over from there and found the equalizer midway through the half.

Alex Scott provided a pinpoint right-wing cross to the head of Jill Scott, who nodded it past goalkeeper Jenny Bindon and into the upper-left corner of the net.

Kelly Smith went close with a shot from outside the area for England, while Ellen White was denied by a nice diving stop from Bindon in the 80th minute.

However, one minute later, Bindon came off her line to punch a ball clear, only for it to fall to Jill Scott, who dropped a pass back for Clarke to smash into the roof of the net.

"We held our own against one of the powerhouses of the game for an hour," New Zealand coach John Herdman said. "That isn't the end of our tournament, because we still have a game against Mexico. It's about pride, and about New Zealand picking up their first three points at a World Cup."