New Zealand have overcome the odds and wave after wave of Italian attacks to record the nation’s greatest footballing result by holding the defending world champs to a 1-1 draw.
Ricki Herbert’s men are now right in the hunt for an unlikely second round appearance at the World Cup.
The result was remarkable when considering the gulf in class and rankings between the two teams – Italy are ranked fifth in the world and New Zealand 78th – and continued a golden run for this pioneering side.
Paraguay top group F with four points, having beaten Slovakia 2-0 in the early match, with Italy and the All Whites tied on two. A win against the South Americans in Polokwane on Friday morning would see the All Whites qualifying for the second round, where they would probably face the Netherlands in Durban.
The scoring before a near full house of 38,229 in Nelspruit came through Shane Smeltz’s first World Cup goal, in the seventh minute, and a controversial Vincenzo Iaquinta penalty in the 29th minute, but there were many other talking points.no