Venezuela defied the odds to score a 2-1 comeback win against New Zealand and collect three crucial points in the team’s opening Group C match at Ato Bolden Stadium in Couva. The Young Football Ferns dominated possession and outfired their opponents, but they were unable to build on Kate Loye’s early opener, with a goal in each half from dynamic Venezuelan attacker Ysaura Viso the difference between the two teams.
The New Zealanders started strongly and were rewarded on ten minutes as Loye collected a rebound in the penalty area to score from close range. Venezuela initially struggled to recover from that setback as the Oceania side continued to dominate the early stages.
However midway through the opening half Viso found space on the corner of the penalty area and fired in a cross-shot, which proved unstoppable for goalkeeper Chloe-May Geurts. Viso was soon at it again forcing a smart save from Geurts. The Vinotinto were starting to play cohesively with captain Marialba Zambrano featuring prominently.
Viso continued to be a constant menace and she headed against the post just a minute after the break. New Zealand’s Olivia Chance created a number of openings with her left-flank promptings, while team-mate Tessa McPherson fired from close-range on 65 minutes only for goalkeeper Maleike Pacheco to make an impressive stop. The importance of the save was amplified just two minutes later as Viso grabbed what proved to be the winner. The No9 collected the ball close to the penalty area before ridding herself off a defender and steering the ball home.
The heroine thereafter for the South Americans was at the other end of the field as Pacheco saved shots from Brittany Dudley Smith, Megan Lee and Chance as the unlucky Kiwis were unable to find an equaliser. The result meant Venezuela created a small slice of history in what was their first match at a FIFA women’s tournament.
The earlier Group C match played today saw Spain overpower Japan 4-1. New Zealand now meet Spain on Thursday, while in the late match that same day Venezuela will tackle Japan.