Big moments key to win

First, Amber Hearn put her side ahead with a cool finish in the 31st minute and later, as the clock ticked towards full-time, goalkeeper Erin Nayler pulled off a spectacular one-handed save to preserve the lead and keep New Zealand’s medal ambitions alive.
“Big moments win games – Amber’s was one and Erin’s was another,” Readings says.
“They were probably of equal importance because we’d just had Abby (Erceg) sent off and then Erin has pulled out a top save for us, which she does time and time again. Her job is to make saves but she did it fantastically there,” he adds.
“That was the big moment for her, she didn’t have too much to do in the game but, when needed, she came up trumps.”
The free kick that called Nayler into action came about when skipper Erceg was adjudged to have brought down Colombia’s Tatiana Ariza and was consequently sent off – a highly-contentious decision that Readings was far from happy with.
“From where we were standing, it didn’t look like a foul so when the referee blew the whistle we were disappointed. And then when she pulled out the red card – surprised would be an understatement,” he says.
“We’re going to do everything we can to overturn that red card, we’ve spoken to some people here and we’re just trying to find out the process. It’s a massive tournament that we’ve all worked really hard for and for someone to miss a game because of a referee’s mistake shouldn’t happen so we’re really hopeful.”
The controversial sending off was the only downside to a heroic performance that secured a second ever Olympic Games win for the New Zealand women.
Readings feels there is still more to come from his charges but was delighted with their efforts.
“Results are what’s important at tournaments but we wanted to put in a good performance as well and we did that for big patches today. All eleven people worked hard, from the front to the back and that’s what we’re going to need in the next game too,” he says.
“We weren’t the complete package and we’ll need to be better against France. But I was really pleased and proud of the players, it was a very eventful game with a lot of challenges but to come through it shows the resilience of the team.”
New Zealand are now likely to need a positive outcome in their final group match against France in Salvador to progress to the quarter-finals and Readings says they will approach the match in a confident frame of mind.
“We’ve got a great amount of belief going into the game, we’ve played them before and it’s typically been close. We know it’s going to be a challenge and that they have some really good players but we have some really good players too,” he says.
“Our ambition was always to go through to the final and win this tournament. To do that, you’re going to have to overcome the likes of France so our plan hasn’t changed. What the result today has done is put us in a position where we now have the destiny in our own hands.”
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football


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