14 Nov 2013

Mexico beat All Whites 5-1

4:04 pm on 14 November 2013

New Zealand have a near-impossible mountain to climb to qualify for next year's football World Cup in Brazil after the All Whites lost 5-1 to Mexico in their qualifying playoff first leg.

The Mexicans dominated possession and put the All Whites under huge pressure in front of 105,000 vocal fans at the giant Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

Mexico started strongly and the visitors, playing in black, had almost no possession in the first half. The hosts held onto the ball and poured wave after wave of attack forward, eventually rewarded with the opening goal on 31 minutes to Paul Aguilar.

That came after goalkeeper Glen Moss collided with Andrew Durante as the defender headed the ball, and Aguilar nipped in to score.

Another Mexico goal was ruled offside, before Raul Jimenez headed Mexico's second goal off a corner.

Mexico's Olympic hero Oribe Peralta scored shortly after the break and got his second with 10 minutes to go. Captain Rafa Marquez scored his country's fifth three minutes later.

There was a glimmer of hope a minute later for the hapless New Zealanders, as Chris James scored a left-footed goal after fellow substitute Rory Fallon's deflected header fell to him in the area.

However that was it for the goalscoring and, most likely, the All Whites' chances of playing in Rio. Mexico also had a goal disallowed for offside.

Chris Wood, Ivan Vicelich and Leo Bertos will miss the second play-off against Mexico in Wellington on 20 November after picking up yellow cards.

New Zealand had been aiming to appear in their third World Cup, four years after managing to draw all three games in South Africa, finishing above Italy and even tying 1-1 against the then defending champions.

Mexico are more than 50 places higher than New Zealand on the world rankings. Manager Miguel Herrera had said he was confident his squad would beat the All Whites in the first leg match. Herrara said he wanted a three-goal advantage heading into the return game in Wellington.

All Whites coach Ricki Herbert lamented his side's uncharacteristically poor defensive effort following the loss.

Herbert says Mexico showed why they are ranked 50 places higher that the team. However, he said New Zealand sides have always prided themselves on their defensive effort and the All Whites let themselves down.

Before the match, Herbert said his All Whites were massive underdogs and would probably be starved of possession. He told Radio New Zealand it was a daunting task for any side and he was well aware the All Whites had to make the most of any possession they could garner.

"The reality is, any nation in the world could come here no matter where your ranking is and find it very difficult."

All Whites fans watched the action at venues throughout the country.

In Auckland, fans were still hopeful that the team will reach the World Cup, despite the loss. About 150 people gathered to watch the match at the Fox on the Viaduct.

Some left deflated after the 5-1 loss, with the late goal not enough for supporter Neil Walker, who said New Zealand used the wrong tactics and the next match will be an uphill battle.

However, others remained optimistic including Paul Harper, who said the New Zealand squad can punch above their weight.

There are 10 other World Cup two-leg playoffs to be decided over the next week.