Colombia 0-1 New Zealand: Hearn the hero for the Ferns

It wasn't the most exciting game but the result is all that matters for the victorious New Zealand.

Colombia 0-1 New Zealand: Hearn the hero for the Ferns
Hearn celebrates the winning goal (photo: Getty Images)
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New Zealand
Colombia: Sepulveda; Gaitan, Ospina (Vidal 79'), Salazar (Regnier 89'), Velasquez, Santos, Usme, Clavijo, N. Arias, Andrade (Ariza 73'), C. Arias.
New Zealand: Nayler; Percival, Duncan, Erceg, Stott, Riley, Hearn, Gregorious (Bowen 58'), Hassett, Longo, Wilkinson (White 62', Moore 90').
SCORE: 0-1, Hearn 31'.
REFEREE: Gladys Langwe. Booked: Salazar (21'), Wilkinson (26'), Duncan (45'). Sent-off: Erceg (88').

A solitary strike from Amber Hearn was enough to secure a hard-fought 1-0 win for New Zealand against Colombia.

The Ferns edged the first half thanks to a cool turn-and-finish from their star forward, notching up her 52nd international goal.

Despite Abby Erceg being sent off late on, they held on for an invaluable three points in a bid to make the quarter-finals.

Hearn strike the difference at the break

It was a slow start for both sides despite their willingness to push on for an early opening goal. Dribbles and passes were constantly cut out, meaning neither could build a meaningful attack. Colombia's Leicy Santos almost combined both, but her pass was slightly too heavy and quickly gathered by Erin Nayler.

The South Americans were proving to be the more dangerous side going forward and we're almost rewarded for their early pressure with a glorious chance falling for Catalina Usme. Unfortunately, though, has shot was tame and tickled into the arms of the goalkeeper.

New Zealand were doing their utmost to press home any aerial advantage they may have had, but the first goal of the game came through some snappy play on the right. Eventually the ball found Hearn in the area, who spun her defender and kept cool to fire low into the net from close range.

Annalie Longo almost made it two-nil soon after, though her shot was well-saved by Sandra Sepulveda. The Colombia custodian was called into action by Hearn just before the break, but was equal to the task this time around.

New Zealand celebrate the goal that ultimately won the game. (Photo: Getty)
New Zealand celebrate the goal that ultimately won the game. (Photo: Getty)

New Zealand hang on for three important points

The second period began with a stunning strike from Hearn that so nearly brought about a second for her and New Zealand. Classy control and a lovely turn opened up space 25 yards from goal, only to see her effort tipped onto the bar by Sepulveda.

Unfortunately that didn't prove to be a sign of things to come, as both teams struggled to make anything happen in the final third. Rosie White was called off the bench and she had an early opportunity to get on the score sheet, instead her effort was dealt with easily by the busy Sepulveda.

That wasn't before a defiant Colombia reminded New Zealand that a win wouldn't be easy to come by in the final stages, as a free-kick from the right was curled in and rattled the crossbar with Nayler well-beaten.

To their credit, the Colombians threw everything they could at New Zealand but came up short. He was an end-to-end, topsy-turvy finish that saw Erceg shown a controversial red card when it appeared her opponent had made the most of the situation. Nevertheless, New Zealand remained calm and were able to grind out a vital win ahead of their final group game with France. As for Colombia, with the USA still to come, it looks like the end of the road.