The New Zealand women’s football team kept their Olympic Games hopes alive with a fighting 1-0 win over Colombia in Belo Horizonte tonight.
New Zealand had to win after their 2-0 defeat by the United States in their Olympic Games opener.
The Colombia match was dramatic and nerve-wracking, but the New Zealanders deserved their victory.
They took the lead after half an hour when Amber Hearn, who was constantly threatening, scored a fine goal. Thereafter play surged back and forth, with New Zealand having slightly more shots on goal, but possession split evenly.
There was a potentially decisive moment near the end when New Zealand captain Abby Erceg was red carded off the field by referee Gladys Lengwe of Zambia. The call seemed extremely harsh and Lengwe appeared to be swayed by the antics of a Colombian player who looked as if she had been tackled by Kieran Read.
New Zealand struggled through to the final whistle with 10 players and on reflection had much for which to thank their agile goalie, Erin Nayler, who pulled off some outstanding saves.
New Zealand went into the match with a world ranking of 17, compared to Colombia’s 24.
New Zealand play France in their final pool match and really need a victory because goal difference does not work in their favour. Such a result will be difficult – France beat Colombia 4-0 in their first match.
However, New Zealand have shown the sort of spirit that could yet pull off a big win.Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Erin Nayler Amber Hearn Abby Erceg Football