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Kiwis snatch late draw

sports Updated: Jun 16, 2010 01:55 IST

Reuters
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New Zealand defender Winston Reid headed an equaliser in the dying seconds to earn a 1-1 draw with Slovakia and secure his country's first ever World Cup point in their Group F opener.

Fullback Reid popped up to glance a header past Jan Mucha that went in off the foot of the post to bring the All Whites level after Robert Vittek had put Slovakia in front five minutes after halftime in what had been a fairly pedestrian contest.

Until New Zealand's late strike Slovakia, making their World Cup debut as an independent nation, had seemed set to top the group ahead of world champions Italy and Paraguay who drew 1-1 in the group opener on Monday.

Vittek scored when he met a diagonal Stanislav Sestak cross with a powerful header from 10 metres after Reid had missed the ball completely in the cold and windy conditions at the Royal Bafokeng stadium.

It was a rare moment of quality in a dreary game during which New Zealand, using a 3-4-3 formation, largely frustrated the cautious Slovaks who appeared reinvigorated after advice at the interval about how to approach the second half.

The Slovaks lifted their tempo and pushed forward more aggressively from then on and gave New Zealand few chances to regain a foothold in the game. Slovakia had enjoyed most possession in an opening half littered with errors as the conditions made it difficult for both teams. Few chances were created but New Zealand's good organisation enabled them to stay in contention.