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2016 Rio Olympics

New Zealand holds off Colombia; Erceg sees red

Abby Erceg's retirement from New Zealand's national side may not be permanent. (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

Amber Hearn’s goal in the 31st minute held up to lift New Zealand to a 1-0 win over Colombia on Saturday at the Belo Horizonte, but the loss of captain Abby Erceg could prove costly to the Football Ferns’ hopes of making the quarterfinals.

Erceg was curiously sent off in the 88th minute for what hardly even looked like a foul. It’s unclear what referee Gladys Lengwe saw:

The red card means that Erceg will miss New Zealand’s final group-stage match against France on Tuesday. With the victory over Colombia on Saturday, New Zealand could go through to the quarterfinals on 3 points, but the advancement to the last eight of the two best third-place teams could come down to the first tiebreaker, which is goal difference. New Zealand lost 2-0 to the United States to open the Rio 2016 Olympics.

France defeated Colombia, 4-0 earlier in the week and lost 1-0 to the United States on Saturday.

[MORE: Lloyd lifts USWNT past France  |  Australia, Germany draw 2-2]

“When she brought out the red card, surprise would be an under-statement and disappointment would be an under-statement,” New Zealand coach Tony Readings said.

“We are going to do everything we can to overturn that red card.”

Readings said referees make mistakes in football, but “if there’s any integrity in this tournament, they’ll find a way to overturn that red card.

“It’s a massive tournament we’ve all worked hard for and for someone to miss a game due to a referee’s mistake, it shouldn’t happen.

“We’re very hopeful we can overturn it.”

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