Italy held to 1-1 draw by courageous New Zealand side

Italy could only manage a 1-1 draw against a very gallant New Zealand side in their second round Group F match of the 2010 World Cup at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Monday.

New Zealand shocked Italy with a goal after only 7 minutes to Shane Smeltz who appeared offside before Vincenzo Iaquinta struck back for the Italians with a penalty goal on 26 minutes after a foul by the All White’s Smith on De Rossi in the area.

The defending champions Italy have only 2 points from two games as do New Zealand who have also played two draws in their first two matches.

Paraguay lead the group with 4 points, Italy and New Zealand 2, with Slovakia on 1 point.

First Half
New Zealand started well and an early free kick for the All Whites was played into the Italian penalty box where it ended up at the feet of Shane Smeltz who tapped in for the opening goal of the match.

The ball appeared to come off the head of New Zealand’s Winston Reid onto an Italian defender before it got to Smeltz and the Kiwi striker was in an offside position as the ball was played through.

No offside was given and the Italians never protested and it was 1-0 New Zealand much to the surprise of most football pundits.

Italy controlled play after the goal and they began to pressure the New Zealand defence relentlessly.

Montolivo came closest for Italy when a cracking long range strike swerved into the bottom of the left hand post with New Zealand keeper Paston looking on hopelessly before the ball rebounded away from goal luckily for the Kiwis.

Italy got their much needed equaliser by way of penalty when Smith from New Zealand was tugging at De Rossi’s shirt close to goal and the Italian’s well rehearsed diving technique came to fruition when the referee declared a penalty for Italy.

Vincenzo Iaquinta struck the penalty to Paston’s left and the score was one goal apiece.

Italy further dominated all the way until half-time with New Zealand barely offering an attempt anywhere near goal.

One wonders how the New Zealanders got their goal in the first place, although it was from a set piece and not in general play.

Someone should let the Italian players know it is a contact sport as they had 3 or 4 players go down as if shot trying to get a cheap free kick.

De Rossi would have enough votes to win an Emmy after Italy’s first two games and it’s a blight on the game.

First half rating (Out of 5): Italy 4.0 – New Zealand 3.0

Second Half
New Zealand were a bit more enterprising in the second half and di not let the Italians have it all their own way.

The game was still there for the taking for Italy but they were unable to get that much needed second gaol to win the game.

Paston made a top save for New Zealand to a super Montolivo shot on 70 minutes that was Italy’s best chance for the half.

A win was almost there for New Zealand when Wood got through the Italy defence in the last ten minutes and his left-footer just missed to the right of the post with the keeper beaten.

New Zealand took all Italy could muster and pulled off a draw against the odds in one of their greatest soccer achievments to date.

It’s worth noting that Italy were unable to score a goal in general play against New Zealand and only got the draw after receiving a penalty in the first half.

Second Half rating (Out of 5): Italy 3.5 – 3.5 New Zealand

Final Score

Italy  1 – 1 New Zealand

07m Shane Smeltz (NZ)
26m Vincenzo Iaquinta – Pen. (Ita)

15m R. Fallon (NZ)
28m T. Smith (NZ)
87m R. Nelson (NZ)

Italy Starting 11
Federico Marchetti, Gianluca Zambrotta, Fabio Cannavaro, Giorgio Chiellini, Domenico Criscito, Simone Pepe, Daniele De Rossi, Riccardo Montolivo, Claudio Marchisio, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Alberto Gilardino

46m Mauro Camoranesi for Simone Pepe
46m Antonio Di Natale for Alberto Gilardino
61m Giampaolo Pazzini for Claudio Marchisio

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

62m Chris Wood for Rory Fallon
80m Jeremy Christie for Ivan Vicelich
90m Andrew Barron for Chris Killen

Team Game Rating (out of 10): Italy 7.5 – New Zealand 6.5

Match Thoughts

Italy will look at this match as a missed opportunity in a game they were expected to win and they will now have to beat Slovakia and hope Paraguay can beat New Zealand.

Maybe if the Italians practiced their football more instead of spending so much time on perfecting their diving techniques then maybe they could have done better.

New Zealand took it up to Italy and when faced with a barrage of Italian offensive pressure the Kiwis stood tall and gave as good as they got in a top effort against the current World Cup holders.

Filed Under: 2010 World Cup