newzealand584

New Zealand's Shane Smeltz celebrates after scoring the opening goal in Sunday's shocking 1-1 draw with Italy. ((Michael Sohn/Associated Press) )

Defending champion Italy was held to a second 1-1 draw, this time by lowly New Zealand in the latest World Cup stunner.

The 78th-ranked All Whites took the lead after only seven minutes of Sunday's Group F match when Italy's 36-year-old captain Fabio Cannavaro made a horrendous error, handing a goal to Shane Smeltz.

A long free kick from Simon Elliott sailed deep into Italy's area, off Cannavaro's hip as he fell and directly toward the waiting Smeltz for the tap-in.

It was New Zealand's only shot on goal the entire match.

Riccardo Montolivo hit the goalpost for Italy in the 27th, then Vincenzo Iaquinta equalized two minutes later with a penalty kick.

Tommy Smith was given a yellow card for tugging down Daniele De Rossi inside the area on a corner kick.

Iaquinta appeared to celebrate as if he were blowing a vuvuzela, the plastic trumpets that have become a symbol of this World Cup.

At the final whistle, however, the celebration was located in one corner of the Mbombela Stadium, where a small section of New Zealand fans marked their country's historic result by taking off their shirts and waving them around deliriously.

"I'm very very proud," coach Ricki Herbert said. "We knew we'd be up against it, but we had great resilience and stayed organized."

Paraguay leads the group with four points, Italy and New Zealand have two points each and Slovakia is last with one point.

Italy meets Slovakia in its final group match Thursday and New Zealand faces Paraguay. All four teams could still advance.

Playing in only its second World Cup — having lost all three of its matches in 1982 — New Zealand gained a point for the second consecutive game after also drawing 1-1 with Slovakia in its opener.

"It's fantastic," Herbert added. "We feel we're deserving and the nation is going with us to Round 3 (of the opening group games)."

Kiwi goalkeeper Mark Paston was virtually flawless, preserving the draw with a leaping save on a long, powerful shot by Montolivo in the 70th.

Italy controlled virtually throughout the match, but New Zealand nearly won when substitute Chris Wood sent an angled shot just wide in the 83rd.

Italy was also held to a 1-1 draw by Paraguay in its opener. The Azzurri looked sharper than against the South Americans, but couldn't beat the physical and tall Kiwis in the air and again had a tough time weaving their way through to the goal area.

Italians struggling for wins

The Italians haven't won since beating Sweden 1-0 in a friendly in November, a streak of five games that includes four draws and a 2-1 loss to Mexico in a World Cup warmup.

Coach Marcello Lippi could make no excuses despite missing his top two players: goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (herniated disk) and midfielder Andrea Pirlo (left calf) both injured.

Buffon could miss the rest of the tournament and Federico Marchetti of small Serie A club Cagliari got his first World Cup start in Italy's net.

Pirlo is likely to return against Slovakia.

Italy wore black armbands in memory of former national team defender Roberto Rosato, who died Sunday at the age of 66.