In the second match of the day from Group G in Belo Horizonte, New Zealand defeated Colombia 1-0.
With both teams coming off losses in their first two games, both Colombia and New Zealand were desperate for points coming in to today’s action. However, the first half was scarce of scoring opportunities as only one legitimate chance was created. Luckily for New Zealand, that chance turned into a goal.
In the 31th minute, New Zealand midfielder Betsy Hassett received a pass on the right side of the field near the touchline and laced a low, driven cross into the penalty area that came to the feet of forward Amber Hearn. Hearn controlled the ball and then coolly deposited it underneath the leg of a Colombian defender and past Colombian goalie Sandra Sepulveda for the 1-0 lead.
The Kiwis had the majority of possession for most of the half and they were ultimately rewarded with a 1-0 advantage going into the interval.
A minute into the second half, New Zealand almost doubled its lead. Hearn, the scorer of the first goal, faked out a Colombian defender just outside the penalty area and ripped a left-footed shot that Sepulveda tipped onto the crossbar then corralled with her hands.
Colombia would finally have its first true scoring opportunity fifteen minutes into the second half when an in-swinging, left-footed free kick from the right side of the field, rang off the crossbar and back in front of the goal. Australia eventually cleared the ball out of danger, ending the threat.
As the game moved forward and approached the 80th minute, Colombia finally started to press and push the play into New Zealand's end. In the 87th minute, New Zealand captain Abby Erceg was shown a red card for dragging down Colombia's Tatiana Ariza, denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity. The ensuing free kick was blistered on net but New Zealand goalie Erin Nayler made a marvelous left-handed stop to protect the lead.
The game ultimately ended 1-0 with New Zealand earning a precious three points
With today's results, the United States is in first place in Group G with six points and a +3 goal differential. France is in second place with three points and a +3 goal differential while New Zealand is in third with three points and a -1 goal differential. Colombia is in last with zero points and a -5 goal differential.
Colombia’s next match is against the United States on Tuesday, August 9th at 6pm in Manaus. New Zealand squares off against France at the same time in Salvador to close out group play.