A late Annalie Longo strike has earned the Football Ferns an impressive 1-1 draw with Japan in a friendly match overnight.
Longo, who came on as 65th minute substitute in the Japanese city of Tosu, scored in the 83rd minute.
Japan, the current world champions and No 3 team in the world, played the second half of the match with 10 after Japanese skipper Aya Miyama was dismissed on the stroke of halftime for two bookable offences.
Even against 10, a draw with Japan is a strong result for the 20th-ranked New Zealanders.
Earlier, the hosts had scored through striker Yuki Ogimi in the 21st minute. That goal spurred the Japanese on and they nearly doubled their lead shortly after.
Miyama's shot however, went just over New Zealand goalkeeper's Erin Nayler's crossbar.
The Kiwis were a much better side in the second spell.
They kept the ball far better and moved the short-staffed Japanese around the pitch.
The Football Ferns were unlucky not to draw level immediately after halftime when Hannah Wilkinson hit the crossbar with a strong volley.
Longo's strike came after Sarah Gregorius was able to find Ria Percival in space on the right touch line.
Percival was able to cross, pulling the ball back to the six-yard box where Longo smashed home the equaliser.
The draw was the Football Ferns third match in eight days after their 1-0 loss and 1-1 draw with World No 9 Australia.
Japan 1 (Ogimi 21')
New Zealand 1 (Longo 83')
Best Amenity Stadium, Tosu, Japan
- Fairfax Media
What do you make of Tommy Smith's decision not to play for the All Whites?Related story: (See story)