ITALY (1) vs NEW ZEALAND (1)
NEW ZEALAND boss Ricki Herbert hailed his country’s “most incredible result” ever after they held world champions Italy to a shock draw.
For 18 minutes the All Whites even led the four-time winners, after striker Shane Smeltz headed them in front during the early exchanges.
And although Italy equalised through a contentious Vincenzo Iaquinta penalty, New Zealand could yet achieve the unthinkable and reach the last 16.
“It is the most incredible result we’ve had,” said Herbert. “We are doing okay for a team that supposedly has some amateurs and shouldn’t be in the World Cup.”
Italy coach Marcello Lippi was at a loss to explain his team’s failure to beat the tournament’s 2,000-1 rank outsiders. “We dominated but we did not create enough goalscoring opportunities. I don’t know why,” said Lippi.
Smeltz struck in the seventh minute when he prodded Simon Elliott’s free-kick past goalkeeper Federico Marchetti. Iaquinta levelled from the spot after Tommy Smith was ruled to have fouled Daniele de Rossi as they tussled for a cross.
Earlier in Group F Enrique Vera and Carlos Riveros struck as Paraguay took a huge step towards the last 16 with a 2-0 win over Slovakia.