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Posted by Marcus Anselm on 06/20/2010

New Zealand’s fairy tale continues after they hung on for an excellent 1-1 draw with world champion Italy at Nelspruit.

Several pundits called New Zealand’s draw against Slovakia the nation’s finest sporting performance.

That time it may have been hyperbole – now it isn’t.

This may not be a vintage edition of the Azzurri and the title holder was on the back foot until a debatable penalty.

The Italians always start slowly in competitions but now have to beat Slovakia. On this evidence, there’ll be no trophy this time

What’s for sure is that the 2010 version of the All Whites are their nation’s finest group of footballers.

Credit goes to Shane Smeltz, for a typical poacher’s goal, playing off the last man and sneaking in to capitalise on Fabio Cannavaro’s error.

Daniele de Rossi’s dive opened up the Kiwi backline for Vincenzo Iaquinta to equalise.

Italy dominated the closing period without inching ahead, although shots by Ivan Vicelich and substitute Chris Wood both went close.

But New Zealand held on for a second point, keeping the dream of qualification for knockout football alive.

Friday’s match against group leaders Paraguay will be just as tough as today’s game. But no one is taking the team lightly any more, and that’s definitely not the case on home soil.

One example of this is the high profile the team is receiving. Football, usually a lesser ranked sport, is big news.

The All Blacks’ rugby exploits – they’ve had their best start to a season for some time – keep the back pages. However, the All Whites boast the front pages. They are the biggest story in town.

And they still have more points than Australia....

Comments

Posted by sam on 06/20/2010

Heroic presentation!

28% ball possession is probably the lowest so far in this WC and probably in any "DRAW" game ever in the WC history. As I have said in other blog posts, this is the tone of the 2010 WC and unfortunatelly for the spectators, its giving amazing results to the underdogs. This is mostly the so called "superior" team's fault. The underdogs go in with a strategy of ultra defending themselves, and the world powers go in a match with the "not wanting to lose" attitude. (except Argentina and Germany, despite their loss to Serbia)

Congratulations, and I hope New Zealand makes it to the next round just to give a lesson to the overrated and overpayed teams and players around the globe.

Posted by Paul Ewing on 06/21/2010

Both teams had some luck, as well as being unlucky, but this Italian team could easily represent their country at the next Olympics in the "Diving" section of their swim team! Good on you All Whites make the next one a win!

Posted by Sam on 06/21/2010

FIFA was going to crack down on 'divers", but except for Germany's Orzil against australia, refs have been turning a blind eye.
But then there is a FIFA agenda - keep Italy in the World Cup at all costs, it would be unthinkable to lose England, France and Italy after pool play and if results go favourably for Australia, Germany could also be on an early plane. That would be disastrous for Sepp Blatter and FIFA.

Posted by Dave on 06/21/2010

This result was beyond my wildest dreams and even if we dont progress to the next round we could still go out of this World Cup UNDEFEATED!

Posted by Julie on 06/21/2010

Well done New Zealand. However let's get some things right. New Zealand's goal was off side and it is a penalty if you grab someone's shirt in the box.

Azzuri fan

Posted by garry on 06/21/2010

As Captain Ryan Nelson so rightly pointed out the Italy game wasn't pretty in the least but the All Whites showed loads of determination and "guts". At the the moment the teams confidence, not to mention the fans, is his high but nobody close to the team is under any illusions as to the task of taking the points needed off a very impressive to date Paraguay. It might be OK to dare to dream the impossible dream but we need to be realistic of the task facing us. Win, lose or draw NZ fans should be very proud of their team at this year's World Cup and the legacy they are leaving for those who will follow in their historic footsteps. Smash "em bro.

Posted by Ian on 06/21/2010

GJ NZ. Even if Smeltz was offside u can clearly see cannavaro hand the ball so it wudda been penalty anyways. I reckon we need more champions league grade refs cause that guy from guatamela was so bias.

Spanish Fan >.

Posted by Toby on 06/21/2010

Great game, great result for us! I think karma really bit the Azzuri's hard in this game, they really snaked Australia 4 years ago and it's ironic that it's the Kiwis putting things right. The goal was vaguely offside, but there's also a hand ball in there. Shirts are grabbed in the box on almost every set piece and the dive that followed was a disgrace; please take note, Julie. Multiple dives in fact. The ref was shocking and Italy was lucky to scrape a point. C'Mon New Zealand!

Posted by H.Baker on 06/21/2010

Great result for us kiwis, as football fans and a nation this will only improve the ranks in this country, as for the game, if u watch most of the corners there were loads of shit pulling going on!! so if the ref were up to standard and not so bias we may hav seen 13 pens!!! get real de rossi, u dove and bring shame to your nation, cum on the all whites!!

Posted by paolo on 06/21/2010

The penalty winning dive was an absolute disgrace.... weak referee with 'stars in his eyes'...Unfortunately it was more of the same from chicken-hearted italian footballers... we are sick of seeing this rubbish win games in european competitions.
To the people focusing on possession %'s I ask you the question: what would Italy's approach have been if they had scored in the 8th minute?

Posted by tony clark on 06/21/2010

Being offside and scoring is not cheating, just a poor call which we see plenty of. Diving in the box to gain a penalty is cheating, and unfortunately backed up again by a poor call. All i hope that is if this pool goes to a draw from the hat, and amazingly Italys name is pulled out to progress, i would like to see them pull out New Zealands name afterwards to prove their name was even in the hat. I've got a feeling we're gonna get a good result against paraguay but be knocked out by the corruption of the organization that is fifa.

Posted by Rob on 06/21/2010

Honestly people must all be watching different games. This was not a majestic performance, it was against an Italian team that is struggling to find any creative breakthrough, a problem which will continue regardless if they get out of the group or not. 29% possession, and 3 shots on goal is not football, yeah a great achievement for a team that has no aspirations but that is it.

@Toby - You have got to be kidding me, Matterazzi was sent off for no reason, so Italy played most of the match with 10 men and still won, everyone forgets that, they just remember that Italy got a penalty in the last few seconds of the game that played for or not, was a penalty! All this rubbish about it was stolen is complete tosh!

Posted by kangelini on 06/21/2010

I am an Italian, and this game was painful to watch. We could have played all night, and the score would have remained 1-1, there was no sign of breaching the NZ defence.

We hear of offside, but honestly I saw no offside. Smeltz took his chance well after the ball fell off Cannavaro.

We have some serious questions. There have only been 2 shots on target against Italy this world cup, but this has led to two goals. Zambrotta is the only Italian player who deserves to wear the blue shirt as he was the only one running. The others expected to be naturally better than their NZ counterparts, but they were proved hugely wrong.

Back to the drawing boards - if you don't shoot, you don't score! Crossing into 2m tall NZ defenders is not the way to score clearly. We Italians learnt a dear and expensive lesson yesterday. Teamwork prevails skill at all levels.

Hats off to NZ who played with pride. Respect.
Paraguay do not have an easy game against the All Whites.

Posted by Marco on 06/21/2010

Italy should be ashamed of themselves, drawing against a bunch of part timers, a-league and 2nd division players in the UK. The overpayed Italians couldn't win this game because they were more concerned with there hairstyles and makeup. Italians should wake up today feeling ashamed of there team

Posted by aj on 06/21/2010

a dive and an embelishment are two different things...without the jersey clinch, DeRossi doesnt get to the ball...exactly the same fashion he scored in game one, creeping behind the keeper...

i agree wholeheartedly with sam "Heroic presentation!

28% ball possession is probably the lowest so far in this WC and probably in any "DRAW" game ever in the WC history. As I have said in other blog posts, this is the tone of the 2010 WC and unfortunatelly for the spectators, its giving amazing results to the underdogs. This is mostly the so called "superior" team's fault. The underdogs go in with a strategy of ultra defending themselves, and the world powers go in a match with the "not wanting to lose" attitude. (except Argentina and Germany, despite their loss to Serbia)

Congratulations, and I hope New Zealand makes it to the next round just to give a lesson to the overrated and overpayed teams and players around the globe."

Posted by Rik on 06/21/2010

According to several players, they were warned by FIFA refs going into the tourney that any shirt pulling, grabbing, or any other shenanigans inside the box would be strictly called. Unfortunately that has not rung true and the shirt pulling - particularly inside the box - has been out of control. I for one am THRILLED that it was finally called, even if it took a semi-dive by an Italian player to do so. These games would be so much more exciting if players weren't allowed to mug each other inside the area (witness the US match against Slovenia which weren't just fouls, they were bear hugs). DeRossi's shirt was clearly pulled badly and whether you like it or not, the rules say that's a penalty. The only shame is that he had to hit the ground to get the call.

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