Colombians slay Kiwis to keep alive hope


LYON: Colombia kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the Confederations Cup semi-finals when they fought back to beat New Zealand 3-1 on Friday. 

The New Zealanders, chasing their first victory in the eight-nations tournament, went in front with a crisp 18-metre shot by striker Raffaele De Gregorio in the 27th minute. 

The South American champions levelled thanks to a 25-metre strike by Jorge Lopez just before the hour, Colombia's first goal in their last six games. 

The New Zealanders were reduced to 10 men when striker Chris Killen was sent off for a second bookable offence 20 minutes from time. 

Looking tired after their 3-0 defeat by Japan in the opening match in Paris on Wednesday, New Zealand struggled to hold the Colombians at bay. 

Defender Mario Yepez slotted a fine volley from inside the box to give his side the lead in the 75th before midfielder Giovanni Hernandez wrapped it up 10 minutes later. 

“The second goal came like a blow for us because we played pretty well until then,” New Zealand coach Mike Waitt said. “We suffered a lot from the heat and we just caved in.” 

In the dying minutes, Francisco Maturana's men created a number of opportunities, but goalkeeper Mike Utting produced several excellent saves. 

Victory kept alive Colombian hopes of qualifying for the last four before they face Asian champions Japan in St Etienne on Sunday. 

“I'm happy with the result because it will be very important for the future,” Maturana said. “My guys proved they could play wisely and with a lot of patience. 

“We had learnt a lot from our defeat by France and we have learnt a lot from tonight's one. It's going to be very useful very soon.” 

New Zealand, the Oceania champions, are eliminated before they face defending champions France in Paris. 

In their previous appearance in the tournament in Mexico in 1999, the Kiwis lost all three games. – Reuters 

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