A soft goal conceded by the Football Ferns has given Colombia a 1-0 win in the sides’ second international friendly, played behind closed doors in Bogatá.
After showing strong resistance at the back for 70 minutes, New Zealand’s defenders allowed a tame cross from 86-cap Daniela Montoya to sneak past them and inside the far post.
The goal was always likely to be enough for a Colombian win, given the Ferns’ poor goalscoring record this year — it was their 12th game in 16 internationals they failed to score.
The match was played in an empty Estadio Metropolitano de Techo, a local club ground, in the shade of a neighbouring amusement park, after a decision by the Colombian Football Federation to play the game without spectators.
New Zealand were forced to make a late change to their starting line-up when defender Rebekah Stott felt unwell before the game.
She was replaced by Kate Taylor in the heart of the defence, and the captain’s armband went to Katie Bowen who became the 12th player to reach 100 full international appearances for the Ferns.
Both teams started cautiously, competing for possession in the middle third rather than burning oxygen in the high altitude conditions.
After only 20 minutes, midfielder Malia Steinmetz was substituted, providing a Ferns debut for Sunderland’s Katie Kitching. It was unclear whether the change was tactical or forced by injury.
Midway through the half, New Zealand created the game’s first chance when Ava Collins broke down the left flank, firing wide of the goal.
A few minutes later, Colombia’s captain Catalina Usme had her side’s first goal attempt with a tame long-range shot , easily taken by goalkeeper Anna Leat, despite an awkward bounce.
Mayra Ramírez wasted an opportunity in the 26th minute when she got on the end of a Marcela Restrepo ball into the area but before she could shoot, she trod on the ball, throwing her off balance.
The New Zealanders grew in confidence as the half wore on, with Collins and Betsy Hassett having shots off target.
As the break approached, Colombia blew a goalscoring opportunity when a poor clearance from Leat was turned into a quick counterattack by the hosts, presenting Ramirez with a chance to beat Leat one-on-one.
Instead, she laid off the ball for a teammate, and the Ferns defence cleared the danger.
The second half started at pace and with chances at both ends.
Hand raced down the right wing, cut past her defender and crossed from the byline, with the ball almost met by an advancing Grace Jale.
Colombia immediately went forward and Ramirez shot from outside the area, forcing Leat into a good diving save as she turned the ball away for a corner.
On the hour, Hand continued to look dangerous, firing a shot from the edge of the area that Catalina Pérez pushed over her crossbar.
Colombia went ahead in the 71st minute with the tamest of goals.
A Colombian corner was overhit, clearing all the players in the penalty area, and was passed by Restropo to substitute Daniela Montoya who crossed the ball back into the danger area.
Her low cross was left alone by the New Zealand defence, and the ball trickled inside the far post.
With 10 minutes to go, Canberra United’s Ruby Nathan (18) came off the bench to make her full international debut, replacing Jale up front.
Colombian substitute Leicy Santos caused New Zealand problems in the dying minutes, with a couple of shots, including an attempt to chip Leat from 35 metres which cleared the bar.
The home side were content to allow the Ferns to have possession in their own half as they wound down the clock, looking to break when they got the chance.
Four minutes into stoppage time, with all the Ferns advanced for a free kick, Ramirez broke from her own half, with only Leat ahead of her.
Paige Satchell sprinted after her and nudged Ramirez in the back just outside the area, sending her sprawling and appealing for a penalty.
Paraguayan referee Zulma Quiñónez shook her head and blew the final whistle, ending a 2023 international programme for the Ferns that produced two wins from 16 fixtures.
Catalina Pérez, Mónica Ramos, Manuela Vanegas, Daniela Caracas (Jocelyn Carabali 65′), Viviana Acosta, Gabriela Huertas (Lorena Bedoya 64′), Camila Reyes (Leicy Santos 46′), Marcela Restrepo, Catalina Usme (captain), Lady Andrade (Daniela Montoya 58′), Mayra Ramírez
Subs not used: Sandra Sepúlveda (GK), Carolina Arias, Ivonne Chacón, Manuela Pavi, Elexa Bahr.
Anna Leat, Mackenzie Barry, Katie Bowen (captain), Michaela Foster (AllY Green 65′), Kate Taylor, Ava Collins, Betsy Hassett, Indiah-Paige Riley (Paige Satchell 46′), Malia Steinmetz (Katie Kitching 20′), Jacqui Hand (Daisy Cleverley 65′), Grace Jale (Ruby Nathan 79′).
Subs not used: Breanna Edwards (GK), Victoria Esson (GK), Manaia Elliott, Aniela Jensen.
Game played on Wednesday December 6, 2023
Colombia 1 (Daniela Montoya 71′)
New Zealand 0