Hearn strike leads New Zealand past Colombia
New Zealand edged Colombia 1-0 thanks to a clinical strike from striker Amber Hearn to win their second match in Olympics history and claim three important points in Group G at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte.
The first half was well balanced between both sides. Colombia attacked mostly with swift counter-attacks, while New Zealand tended to attempt to keep the ball while using the flanks to create danger up front.
Colombia had two early chances from firstly Carolina Arias, who shot from distance only to see her effort sail just over the crossbar. Then Catalina Usme found space in the penalty area but her volley did not trouble New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler.
Eventually the Football Ferns' method was rewarded on 31 minutes when forward Amber Hearn put her side in front, thanks to an assist from Betsy Hassett. The No9 was able to score from 12 yards out despite a challenge from Colombia defender Natalia Gaitan.
As expected, Colombia put more pressure on New Zealand's defence after half-time. However,* *after Diana Ospina's free-kick hit the crossbar in the 59th minute, NZ remained largely in control of the match. In the final ten minutes, Colombia and Catalina Usme especially gave everything they had to score a goal.
New Zealand did enough to hold on to their second win in Olympics history, thanks to a late save from Nayler and despite Abby Erceg's sending off two minutes from full time.