New Zealand grab 1-1 draw over Slovakia with 90th minute equaliser

New Zealand has defied the odds and with a last second goal has stolen a point with a 1-1 draw against Slovakia in their Group F match of the 2010 World Cup at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa.

A Robert Vittek goal on 50 minutes for Slovakia was cancelled out at literally the very last second of the match when New Zealand’s Winston Reid headed the equaliser home with seconds to go.

In a match that lacked the skill of their fellow opponents Italy and Paraguay from yesterday’s Group F match, both sides had their moments that tested their opposition’s defence and it was Slovakia who appeared the better side on the day.

Slovakia will be disappointed at conceding a goal so late in the match while New Zealand showed that anything is possible if you keep at it long enough.

First Half
New Zealand’s Killen had a couple of half chances in the first 5 minutes and the All Whites start in an attacking manner.

The pace of Slovakia was causing New Zealand problems and they too created some half chances that never really seriously threatened.

New Zealand kept Slovakia at bay for most of the first half and the Slovakians found it hard to penetrate the All Whites defence.

Slovakia’s Vittek ripped in a left-footed at long range on 35 minutes that ended up going wide, while soon after that up the other end Smeltz hits one wide into the left side of the net.

Hamsik ripped in a shot just before half-time that was knocked over the bar by New Zealand keeper Paston and scores were tied 0-0 at the break .

Neither side really threatened goal that much and skill errors were aplenty but it was a competitive match.

First half rating (Out of 5): New Zealand 2 – Slovakia 2.5

Second Half
Slovakia controlled play early in the second half and were rewarded with a goal on 50 minutes when Rober Vittek got on the end of a Sestak cross to head in the opening goal for Slovakia and scores were 1-0.

The speed of Sestak was proving troublesome for the All Whites and strong defensive work negates a good forward move by the Slovakian just before the hour.

Slovenia had a golden chance to go two up on New Zealand just past the hour when they counter attacked and looked likely to score but they failed to make the All Whites pay and the Vittek shot was off target.

New Zealand lifted their intensity in the final stanza and a couple of solid chances were followed by a Shane Smeltz cross that found the head of Winston Reid to level the scores right at the death.

The referee blew his whistle seconds after the New Zealand goal and it was 1-1 in Rustenburg.

Second Half rating (Out of 5): New Zealand 2.5 – Slovakia 2.5

Final Score

New Zealand 1 – 1 Slovakia

50m Robert Vittek (Slo)
90m Winston Reid (NZ)

42m Tony Lochhead (NZ)
55m Zdeno Strba (Slo)
90m Winston Reid (NZ)

New Zealand Starting 11
Mark Paston, Winston Reid, Ryan Nelsen, Ivan Vicelich, Tommy Smith, Leo Bertos, Simon Elliott, Tony Lochhead, Rory Fallon, Shane Smeltz, Chris Killen

Substitutes
72m Chris Wood for Chris Killen
78m Jeremy Christie for Ivan Vicelich

Slovakia Starting 11
Jan Mucha, Radoslav Zabavnik, Martin Skrtel, Jan Durica, Marek Cech, Zdeno Strba, Vladimir Weiss, Stanislav Sestak, Marek Hamsik, Robert Vittek, Erik Jendrisek

Substitutes
80m Filip Holosko for Stanislav Sestak
84m Miroslav Stoch for Robert Vittek
90m Juraj Kucka for Vladimir Weiss

Team Game Rating (out of 10): New Zealand 4.5 Slovakia 5

Match Thoughts

New Zealand would have been over the moon with the result from this match and even though they were lucky to get the draw in the end they actually played better than most people would have expected.

Having said that, they never seriously looked like scoring a goal but did create the odd chance and took their chance when they got it late in the game.

Slovakia had plenty of pace up front that found the All Whites out a number of times and Slovakia probably deserved to win as they were slightly more offensive than their opponents.

Both sides lack the class to go get out of this group and they will struggle against Paraguay and Italy, especially New Zealand who may need divine intervention to find the net, as they didn’t venture forward too often against Slovakia.

New Zealand

Positives: Finally got their first point at a World Cup and fought the game out till the very end and were rewarded late with a goal.
Area to Improve: More potency up front as they were rarely dangerous and only created half chances.
Where to now: Front up to Italy and hard to see them scoring against the Italian defence on what they showed today.

Slovakia

Positives: Pace through the middle was effective and down back they were very steady until the last minute.
Area to Improve: Need to create more chances and convert more opportunities, plus play the game right out to the final whistle.
Where to now: Face Paraguay next and the pace of the Slovakians could test Paraguay a little but realistically they will find the Paraguayans a tough ask.

Filed Under: 2010 World Cup