21 Jun 2010

All Whites hold defending champions to 1-1

5:33 am on 21 June 2010

The All Whites have achieved their best result ever, holding the World Cup defending champions Italy to a 1-all draw this morning in Nelpruit.

Shane Smeltz gave the All Whites a shock lead only 7 minutes into the game, after the Italian defence failed to clear a long range free kick.

But the world number five equalised after 29 minutes from the penalty spot, a decision described by skipper Ryan Nelson as a ridiculous call.

Italy dominated possession for most of the match, but couldn't convert any of their 15 corner kicks, to New Zealand's nil.

Skipper Ryan Nelsen says it wasn't pretty, but he was proud of his team's determination and guts against the odds in giving themselves a chance to reach the second round.

Paraguay lead group F with four points after beating Slovakia 2-nil in today's early game, while New Zealand and Italy have two points, and Slovakia one.

The All Whites coach Ricki Herbert was adamant after the match that their final group opponents Paraguay will find them very hard to beat on Friday morning.