UN-believable! New Zealand ties with Italy 1-1.
Here’s what some of the papers (websites) had to say about it:
If the Slovakia result was incredible, this is truly mind-blowing and they still have a genuine chance of progressing to the second round – although Paraguay looked slick in their 2-0 defeat of Slovakia. That would be one of the biggest surprises in World Cup history, much like the US beating England in 1950.
If they did that, the whole team should be knighted. At least coach Ricki Herbert and captain Ryan Nelsen.
The really crazy thing is, New Zealand could have won beaten Italy. Yes, they were under immense pressure for most of the game, but the goal they conceded, a 29th minute Vincenzo Iaquinta penalty, was extremely soft.
Midfielder Daniele Di Rossi, all 85kg of snarling Italian cabanossi, went down like he had been tackled by All Black Ma’a Nonu.
All Whites defender Tommy Smith naively tugged his shirt, but this happens virtually any time a ball is played into the box, and Di Rossi fell like his legs had been taken from under him. He was clearly looking for a penalty and the referee duly obliged.
Adding salt to a raw wound, De Rossi won the man of the match award.
What a joke.
If a team ranked fifth in the world has to resort to deception to subdue a side ranked 78th, then what hope is there for the World Cup?
Admittedly, the All Whites had snatched the lead through a dubious goal of their own. Shane Smeltz strayed offside just as Winston Reid touched on a cross which then cannoned off Italian skipper Fabio Cannavaro.
But there is a decided difference between an offside goal – a split-second judgment call by a match official – and a deliberate dive which resulted in a soft penalty and a yellow card for the guiltless Smith. De Rossi’s name should have gone into the black book instead, for shameful simulation.
Sydney Morning Herald
Full time: Italy 1-1 New Zealand It’s the feelgood hit of the summer: New Zealand have held the world champions Italy. Extraordinary stuff. They put in such a resourceful display, and were led sensationally by the brilliant Ryan Nelsen. Italy’s World Cup minnowphobia continues, and they will need to get at least a draw against Slovakia on Thursday to qualify. But today is all about New Zealand, who have infused this World Cup with the sort of innocent, everyman charm that was seemingly lost to top-level football. After two games, they are on behind Italy on alphabetical order. Congratulations to them.
New Zealand held firm, undone only by their opponents’ mastery of the game’s darker arts.
Tommy Smith, of Ipswich Town, took on the role of mark, Daniele De Rossi the common purpose crook who had spotted his victim. The Roma midfielder was already in mid-leap when Smith fingered his shirt. It was a penalty, certainly, but perhaps only by the letter of the law, rather than the spirit of it. Vincenzo Iaquinta, coolly, calmly, converted.
Humiliation averted? Not a bit of it. New Zealand refused to buckle, to wilt to received wisdom.
New Zealand, dripping with defiance, would not be broken. The white shirts began to whirl. It is a gesture with a different meaning in other parts of Europe, of course, the wall of white a sign of displeasure. The irony will not be lost on Lippi and his team.
What a game!!!