June 15, 2010
RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – A last gasp Winston Reid header deep into injury time earned New Zealand an historic and dramatic 1-1 draw against Slovakia in Rustenburg to leave the All Whites firmly in the mix in Group F at the FIFA World Cup.
With time ticking away and New Zealand a goal down to a 50th minute Robert Vittek header, Reid climbed high over Zdenko Strba at the back post to meet a perfectly flighted Shane Smeltz cross, sparking wild celebrations throughout the New Zealand squad.
The draw earns New Zealand its first ever point at a FIFA World Cup finals and leaves all four teams in Group F level on one point after Monday’s 1-1 draw between Italy and Paraguay.
“We’ve got a really proud dressing room there. We came across with intentions to make a difference and we’ve done that. I thought we played very well against a highly ranked team so I’m very proud.”
With New Zealand’s next two games against World Champions Italy (June 15) and Paraguay (June 24th) taking on added importance, Herbert was reluctant to overplay the draw but did acknowledge, when pushed, the significance of the result.
“It’s probably well up there, it’ll have to be,” Herbert said.
“We were never picked to get a point at a World Cup albeit we’ve only been twice. We got a result over Serbia but people want to tell you that was a friendly.
“We’ve come and thrown some pretty good punches tonight and got a well deserved point.”
The best early chances fell to the All Whites with Chris Killen putting a shot and then a header wide within the first 10 minutes.
New Zealand’s defence endured some testing moments, including when a scuffed clearance from goalkeeper Mark Paston left the All Whites defence momentarily scrambling to clear the danger from Vladimir Weiss.
The sides went into halftime level but five minutes after the restart, Vittek off Reid’s shoulder evaded the offside trap and headed Slovakia into the lead.
Slovakia sat on their lead for 20 minutes, but burst back into life with Reid, Ryan Nelsen and Tony Lochhead all throwing themselves into making potential goal saving blocks.
An unmarked Smeltz looked to have wasted New Zealand’s best chance to draw level minutes from fulltime but combined well with Lochhead before providing the killer ball for Reid’s historic goal.
IFA World Cup: Group F
New Zealand 1 (Winston REID 90+3) Slovakia 1 (Robert VITTEK 50)
Royal Bafokeng Stadium
June 15, 2010
New Zealand: 1-Mark PASTON (GK), 3-Tony LOCHHEAD, 4-Winston REID, 5-Ivan VICELEICH (21-Jeremy CHRISTIE 78), 6-Ryan NELSEN (captain), 7 Simon ELLIOTT, 9-Shane SMELTZ, 10-Chris KILLEN (20-Chris WOOD 72), 11-Leo BERTOS, 14-Rory FALLON, 19-Tommy SMITH.
Substitutes not used: 2-Ben SIGMUND, 8-Tim BROWN, 13-Andy BARRON, 15-Michael MCGLINCHEY, 16-Aaron CLAPHAM, 17-David MULLIGAN, 18-Andrew BOYENS, 22-Jeremy BROCKIE, 23-James BANNATYNE (RGK).
Suspended: 12-Glen MOSS (GK).
Coach: Ricki HERBERT
Slovakia: 1-Jan MUCHA (GK), 3-Martin SKRTEL, 4-Marek CECH, 5-Radoslav ZABAVNIK, 6-Zdenko STRBA, 7-Vladimir WEISS (19-Juraj KUCKA 91), 9-Stanislav SESTAK (13-Filip HOLOSKO 81), 11-Robert VITTEK (15-Miroslav STOCH 84), 16-Jan DURICA, 17-Marek HAMSIK, 18-Erik JENDRISEK.
Substitutes not used:2-Peter PEKARIK, 8-Jan KOZAK, 10-Marek SAPARA, 12-Dusan PERNIS (RGK), 14-Martin JAKUBKO, 20-Kamil KOPUNEK, 21-Kornel SALATA, 22-Martin PETRAS, 23-Dusan KUCIAK (GK),
Coach: Vladimir WEISS
Cautions: Tony LOCHHEAD (NZL) 42', Zdenko STRBA (SVK) 55', Winston REID (NZL) 90'+