New Zealand have grabbed their first ever World Cup point by scoring a last-second goal against Slovakia.
New Zealand: 1 (Winston Reid 90+3’)
Slovakia: 1 (Robert Vittek 50’)
Venue: Royal Bafokeng Stadium - Rustenburg
Referee: Jerome Damon (RSA)
Yellow cards: NZL - Tony Lochhead 42’, Winston Reid 90+3’
SVK - Zdeno Strba 55’
New Zealand started in a very positive manner and had a few half chances early in the opening ten minutes but Slovakia settled well after an initial shaky start with plenty of good ball forward and a lot of pace down the flanks, particularly from Vladimir Weiss.
Chris Killen was providing a few problems for the Slovakian defence but the Europeans were allowing the All Whites plenty of possession as they were wasting a few chances.
Down the other end, Slovakia had a few strong opportunities with Stanislav Sestak and Robert Vittek unleashing from outside the area but fortunately for Ricki Herbert and his men, the ball was flying wide.
The All Whites went extremely close in the 38th minute when Rory Fallon played a deft ball into the path of Shane Smeltz but the Gold Coast United striker’s left-footed shot was deflected into the side-netting by Slovakian keeper Jan Mucha.
Kiwi keeper Mark Paston was called on late in the opening half to make a smart save from a curling Marek Hamsik shot but that was about the extent of it all for the first 45 minutes.
The opening minutes of the second term saw Slovakia score their first ever World Cup goal since gaining independence through Robert Vittek who placed his header perfectly after a pinpoint Sestak cross and all of the players embraced to celebrate.
Slovakia were beginning to become very dangerous every time they pushed forward, generally by way of counter-attack and they were inches away from a second goal when they broke with three on three with about 20 minutes remaining but All Whites defender Winston Reid managed a block deep in the area to cover for his side.
New Zealand toiled hard for a leveller and it came in the final seconds when Smeltz turned his opponent outside the area before sending an aerial ball in for Reid, who in just his fourth international, headed home to the jubilation of the New Zealand coaching staff and fans.
Subs - Chris Wood (72’), Jeremy Christie (78’)
Jan Mucha (gk), Martin Skrtel, Marek Cech, Radoslav Zabavnik, Zdeno Strba, Vladimir Weiss (Kucka 90+1’), Stanislav Sestak (Holosko 81’), Robert Vittek (Stoch 84’), Jan Durica, Marek Hamsik, Erik Jendrisek
Subs - Filip Holosko (81’), Miroslav Stoch (84’), Juraj Kucka (90+1’)