The All Whites continue to set new highs for New Zealand football after drawing 1-1 this morning with world champions Italy in a group D match at the Fifa Wortd Cup in South Africa.
Shane Smeltz gave the All Whites the lead in the sixth minute but Italy levelled in the 28th minute when Tommy Smith conceded a penalty after tussling with Daniele De Rossi.
A Reuters soccer blog rates the draw in the top 10 of greatest World Cup shocks.
In after-match comments, All Whites coach Ricki Herbert has questioned some of the referee’s decisions and says New Zealand could advance to second round.
"I thought some of the decisions were quite strange,” he said after the match. "The nation can come to the third game with us with a chance to go through - who'd have thought it?"
Italy pressed for the three points in a pulsating second half, but New Zealand defended stoutly and could have snatched the win had Chris Wood not guided a late left-foot shot just wide.
"These boys just keep responding," Herbert said. "We knew we'd be up against it."
New Zealand captain Ryan Nelson described Guatemalan referee Carlos Batres's decision to award a penalty as a "ridiculous call."
"I think their goal wasn't a goal. I think the guys will be disappointed that we ended up drawing because it was a dodgy goal," he said. "It wasn't pretty, they [New Zealand] showed so much determination and guts."
Italy need to beat Slovakia on Thursday to guarantee their place in the second phase, but should they only manage a draw then New Zealand could deny them with victory over Paraguay in their final group match.
"I'm speechless because everybody put in such a shift. We've given ourselves an opportunity [to go through to the second stage]," Nelson said.
"It's exciting. All we wanted to do was give ourselves an opportunity in the last game. Paraguay are just as good as Italy, an amazing team, so we're going to have to recover and do it all again."
The Daily Telegraph has a full match description:
In the final third, however, they were profoundly lacking in ideas, and even looked a little toothless in the face of one of the most fearless rearguards you will see in this tournament.
Which brings us to the magnificent New Zealand. They will want to bottle this moment forever. They produced a display of fortitude, courage and skill (well, a bit). What is beyond doubt is that they now have a genuine chance of qualifying.
Prime Minister John Key, who was at Nelspruit for the match, has congratulated the All Whites on their performance.
“The All Whites showed all the courage and character we know they possess to score what is New Zealand’s best result yet in world football," Mr Key said.
“In drawing with one of the world’s top teams, the All Whites have surprised everybody and stunned the footballing world. The team can take great pride in their result.
“I have personally congratulated coach Ricki Herbert, captain Ryan Nelsen and the team. I am sure all New Zealanders will join with me in saying how proud we are of the All Whites.
“I wish the team all the best for their next game against Paraguay on Friday.”
Mr Key arrives back in New Zealand tomorrow night.
Mon, 21 Jun 2010