New Zealand’s campaign at the Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica is over.

Needing to beat Colombia by two goals in their final group game, the Junior Football Ferns could only draw 2-2 with the South Americans on Thursday.

It always looked a difficult assignment, given New Zealand had only found the net once in their previous two games, but they will look back on a missed opportunity, especially as Colombia were reduced to 10 players late in the first half.

New Zealand failed to make the most of an early lead after a wonderful Milly Clegg goal, and then conceded a goal to the short handed South Americans in the second half with the score at 1-1.

A long-range effort from Charlotte Lancaster in the 71st minute raised hopes of an revival, but there were no further clear chances.

Colombia were the better team across the match, with their pace and guile up front too much for the Ferns, and the game management from New Zealand at crucial times left a bit to be desired.

Alyssa Whinham was again prominent as the creator, while captain Kate Taylor held things together well at the back, but coach Gemma Lewis couldn’t find the right recipe with her second-half substitutions to provide the impetus needed.

Overall the tournament was a solid, if not spectacular effort from the Ferns, given the high hopes for this generation.

They achieved a draw against Mexico (1-1), before being outplayed by Germany (3-0) off the back of a short turnaround.

On Thursday they produced some of their best football of the tournament – in an open entertaining game – before eventually running out of steam.

They made a brilliant start, thanks to some magic from Clegg in the third minute.

Marisa Van Meer found the young Auckland United striker, who turned inside her marker superbly – complete with a nutmeg – before a curled finish into the far corner from the edge of the area.

The 16-year-old Clegg has looked good at this level, with a similarly impressive strike against Australia in June.

But the Ferns failed to capitalise on their advantage, conceding just seven minutes later.

They were over-ambitious – and perhaps naive – as they tried to play too much football deep inside their half.

Two quick chances fell to Gisela Robledo but the Ferns didn’t learn their lesson.

They again surrendered possession in a dangerous area, allowing Linda Caicedo to shoot home from outside the area, with goalkeeper Murphy Sheaff given no chance.

That started a period of dominance, with the South Americans eschewing several further opportunities.

New Zealand had some moments, but were often on the back foot. But the picture of the game completely turned in the 42nd minute, with the dismissal of Colombian defender Yirleidys Minota for a challenge on Ava Pritchard.

It was a harsh call – probably worth a yellow at most – but the referee decided on red after a lengthy VAR review, with the slow-motion replays making it look worse.

After the interval New Zealand had some half-chances, with an Ava Collins shot that was deflected wide the best – before Caicedo got her brilliant second goal in the 63rd minute.

She burst past substitute defender Te Reremoana Walker, who had already been booked, before a clinical finish past Sheaff.

Lancaster’s 25-metre effort was spectacular, as her curled cross floated into the net, after Colombia had only half cleared a Ferns corner.

They gave the Ferns some late hope, but they couldn’t find a winner, as Colombia hung on, despite more than eight minutes of added time.

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