World Cup post-game: Slovakia 1, New Zealand 1
Winston Reid scored in injury time to help New Zealand earn a 1-1 draw against Slovakia on Tuesday in Rustenburg, South Africa, in Group F action from the World Cup.
The main storyline
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Everybody wrote off the New Zealand national team before it even stepped off the plane in South Africa, but the All Whites showed great resolve on Tuesday to earn their first-ever World Cup point — they lost all three games in their only previous tournament appearance, in 1982 in Spain.
It was all one-way traffic in the first half, with Slovakia dominating play and putting New Zealand under constant pressure. Though they didn't score, it was clear from the way Slovakia was dictating the pace of the match that it would only be a matter of time before they did.
And when the New Zealand goal was finally breached in the 50th minute, it appeared the floodgates were open. But the Slovaks squandered a handful of scoring chances, and paid for their wastefulness when Reid scored on a header off a Shane Smeltz cross in injury time.
Turning point of the game
Slovakia looked to have the game sewn up, before Reid's late goal allowed the Kiwis to earn a dramatic draw
What this result means
Group F is wide open with all four teams — New Zealand, Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay — tied with one point apiece.
What this means is that no team can clinch a second-round berth in the next round of Group F games, setting the stage for a thrilling finish to this group with all four sides jockeying for the top two spots.
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Man of the match
Reid distinguished himself with his dramatic equalizer, stunning the Slovaks into silence.
Goal of the match
Slovakia's goal was the product of a neat interchange of quick passes down the right side. The series ended when Stanislav Sestak delivered a great cross into the middle of the box for Robert Vittek, who slipped behind two New Zealand defenders to expertly nod the ball home.
The New Zealand perspective
"I thought the opening game was a good chance to get something and I would have been disappointed with a loss after conceding a goal like that. But we kept coming, the boys kept coming." — coach Ricki Herbert
The Slovakian perspective
"This is a minor sporting tragedy for us. We were the better team over the game. It's a pity we didn't take our chances." — coach Vladimir Weiss
Slovakia takes on Paraguay in Bloemfontein on Sunday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 a.m. ET), while New Zealand meets Italy on the same day in Nelspruit (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 9:30 a.m. ET).