7M SPORTS Favorites 
Player Ratings : New Zealand 1-1 Slovakia
16/06/2010  by YAHOO Sport
Text size: A A A

By BARRY HATTON Associated Press Writer

RUSTENBURG, South Africa(AP)—Winston Reid didn’t think twice about stripping off his shirt in celebration of his big goal. The yellow card he would receive wasn’t even a consideration.

“It probably was the most important goal of my life,” Reid said Tuesday after scoring in second-half injury time to lift New Zealand into a 1-1 draw with Slovakia in Group F. “I didn’t see the ball until late. I knew that if I got it on-target and didn’t hit it too hard, I could just guide it in.”

Which he did before sprinting to the sideline, his shirt removed, as teammates chased him.

“I will take it,” Reid said of the yellow card. “It was worth it.”

Born in Auckland, he moved to Denmark at age 10 and is a citizen of the country. He only switched his allegiance back to New Zealand this year.

That seems to be worth it, too.

“At the beginning, I was weighing my options up,” Reid said. “I feel I made the right decision, not because of the goal but because of the feeling in the team.”

The feeling in the Slovakian team was not quite so upbeat.

“We were the better team over the game,” coach Vladimir Weiss said. “It’s a pity we didn’t take (advantage of) our chances.”

Robert Vittek scored early in the second half, giving Slovakia the lead. But Reid sneaked behind the defense to take a long cross from Shane Smeltz and tie it.

The Kiwis are ranked 78th in the world, 44 spots above Slovakia, which is in its first World Cup as an independent nation.

Slovakia’s goal came in the 50th minute when Stanislav Sestak crossed from the right side. Reid missed his defensive header, allowing Vittek to scored from close range at the far post.

Vittek nearly doubled the lead in the 69th minute on a counterattack, but goalkeeper Mark Paston was quick off his line and made the save.

All four teams have one point in Group F. Italy and Paraguay drew 1-1 Monday.

Reid’s strike gave New Zealand its first point at a World Cup after going winless in its 1982 debut.

“I thought the opening game was a good chance to get something and I would have been disappointed with a loss after conceding a goal like that,” New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert said. “But we kept coming, the boys kept coming.”

Both teams are regarded as outsiders in South Africa, and Tuesday’s performance was ragged at 38,646-capacity Royal Bafokeng Stadium, which was two-thirds full.

Slovakia, which surprised the Czech Republic and Poland in qualifying, was the more polished team and created most scoring chances. But New Zealand needed only one good opportunity to gain a point.

New Zealand’s tight man-to-man defense choked Slovakia’s disjointed attempts to move forward in the early stages. Soon, though, the Slovaks found some rhythm.

Sestak cut into the area in the 27th minute to meet a pass from Vladimir Weiss, the Slovakia coach’s son, but sent his shot just past Paston’s left post.

Paston miscued on a clearance in the 33rd, allowing Vittek to pounce. But the striker hesitated on the ball and was closed down by the defense.

Rory Fallon put Smeltz into scoring position inside the Slovakian area in the 38th, but he fired the ball into the side netting, then Paston tipped a curling shot from Marek Hamsik over the crossbar.

Slovakia looked poised to extend its lead when a counter-attack had New Zealand backpedaling before Vittek squandered his chance in front of the goal.

It proved costly when the Kiwis struck for the last-minute equalizer.

“We still have two heavyweights to go and they will be tough,” Herbert said. “I think it was a strong performance today. I think we showed the kind of football we play now is conducive to results.”

Mucha: 6 - The keeper did everything required of him when called upon. Everton fans will be safe in the knowledge they have acquired a safe backup to Tim Howard.
Zabavnik: 6 - The right back was quietly efficent in both defence and attack. He showed good positional awareness and effected some vital interceptions. 
Skrtel: 7 -  The Liverpool man was a tower of strength at the back and his intervention was just enough to pressurise Killen to fluff his early chance . As ever, he relished the aerial battles. 
Durica: 6 - Like Skrtel he coped well in the air however at times he was wasteful in possession. 
Cech: 6 - West Brom's leftback was dependable in the defence, coping easily with Bertos but will be looking to offer more going forward against Paraguay. 
Strba: 5 - The tough schemer sat in front of the back four and was guilty of some rash challenges and at one point was in danger of seeing red. 
Weiss: 8 - The jet heeled winger displayed some good trickery down the right hand side. His pace was always the best outlet for the Slovaks and he also showed his excellent crossing ability with an inch-perfect cross for the opening goal.
Sestak: 7.5 - The striker always looked to get in behind and his pace was an effective weapon, which stretched the Kiwi backline. A goal would have been the icing on the cake.
Hamsik: 6 - The Napoli star was deployed on the left due to his two-footedness and thus he did not get into enough goalscoring positions. It was a frustrating afternoon for the highly sought after midfielder as he failed to impose himself on seemingly inferior opposition.
Vittek: 7 - The former Lille striker lacked confidence in the first half however, unsurprisingly for a man who had failed to score in the qualifiers. However he took his header superbly to open the scoring and from there on was bright.
Jendrisek: 5 - Operating wide on the left, he was rarely in the game in an attacking sense. In the first half, he briefly switched sides with Weiss briefly but to no avail. 
Holosko: 4 - Lacked the spark of the man he replaced.
Stoch: 5 - The winger on the way to Fenerbahçe was given a brief run out after his knee problem. 
Kucka: NA
Hot Topic
Lastest Comments
Cities & Venues
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E
  • F
  • G
  • H
    Notice: Please subject to GMT+0800 if there are no other time zones marking in our info.
    Copyright © 2003 - Power By www.7msport.com All Rights Reserved.