Last Minute Equaliser Saves Kiwis!
Chris Killen of New Zealand gets away from Marek Hamsik of Slovakia
Winston Reid saved New Zealand with a last minute equaliser in their match against Slovakia on Tuesday afternoon. The game ended 1-1 in Rustenburg and the Kiwis were lucky to get away with a point in their opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The first 45 minutes saw Slovakia as the better side as they controlled the majority of possession with some slick passing and tough tackling in the midfield. Still, despite their dominance the European side couldn’t find that decent final ball that would lead to the game’s opening goal.
The Kiwis, on the other hand, seemed a bit timid going forward. They did, however, look dangerous at set-piece time especially in the air where they where they easily outmuscled the Slovakians.
Nonetheless, even though both teams looked threatening at times, both side’s chances in the first half were few and far between.
That, however, was not the way the game started. The matched did in fact start very lively with Chris Killen coming very close to the game’s opening goal in only the fifth minute. Killen got above the Slovakian defence to head a corner-kick goalwards from ten yards out, but his powerful effort was straight at the keeper who made the save.
Then only a minute later and Slovakia were on the attack as Vladimir Weiss drove forward and unleashed a shot from about 22-yards out. Mark Paston, in goals for the Kiwis, made a fine save diving to his right to deny Weiss.
From that point on the game went into a bit of a lull for about 20 minutes as the pattern of the game became quite distinct: Slovakia were content to try and pass their way through their opposition whereas New Zealand opted for long hit and hope passes.
In the 28th minute Weiss was in the thick of the action again when he set Stanislav Sestak through on goal, but he only succeed in producing a poor effort on goal from 16 yards out hitting his shot wide of goal when he should have done a lot better.
The All Whites had the last say of the half in terms of goal mouth chances when Shane Smeltz fired goalwards with a ferocious shot in the 38th minute. Smeltz struck the ball beautifully but only saw his effort strike the side netting.
The second half continued in the same pattern as the first but with one difference: Slovakia’s passing started to provide some penetration and they eventually found the goal they richly deserved in the 50th minute.
Sestak whipped in a teasing cross that Robert Vittek, ironically, got to ahead of the New Zealand defence and headed home from only six yards out giving the Europeans their first ever World Cup goal.
Thereafter the Slovakians looked in firm control of the game as the Kiwis struggled to get hold of the ball. That was until the final ten minutes of the game as the New Zealanders pushed players forward in their numbers in search of an equaliser.
And just as the Slovaks looked to have secured a point Winston Reid crushed their hopes and revived his country’s own with a goal in the final minute of injury time. Reid saved his side with a clinical header in the 93rd minute meeting a cross from the left side with a fine header into the top right hand corner, 1-1.
Shortly after Slovakia restarted the match the referee blew the final whistle as the teams shared the spoils in their first game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
New Zealand (0) 1 (Reid 93’)
Slovakia (0) 1 (Vittek 50’)