What we expected
A balanced game – Since this the first matchup between the two teams, we really have nothing to go on. Although people are looking for a win from New Zealand, I really believe it’s a toss up in this game. As far as captains go Marek Hamsik (Slovakia) and Ryan Nelson (New Zealand) will be quite the matchup, however, it worries me when Slovakia talks about how just making it to the World Cup was a big achievement – hmm.. Sounds to me like they’re already giving up.
New Zealand starts the game off aggressive and we start seeing that wind is going to play a major part in this game. At the 17th minute, a free kick for New Zealand sends the ball straight down the middle of the field and Elliot floats it out of play. Wind perhaps?
At the thirty minute mark we see that early possession by New Zealand be taken over by Slovakia as they get multiple chances a goal, but New Zealand quickly steps in and Killen makes at run just left of the goal.
After a yellow card to Lochhead for a challenge to Jendrisek, Hamsik takes control and curls a shot that Paston clears just over the bar. It was so close – but makes for a much more exciting game.
At the end of the first half we have Slovakia taking over possession at 62%, and Slovakia with 7 shots on goal and New Zealand with 6. This is still anyone’s game.
It was Shane Smeltz who provided the service for Reid, who was wide open in the box. He did extremely well with the cross, though, turning his head to direct it where Mucha had no chance to stop it.
Slovakia must be devastated about not getting another goal earlier in the game. Group F is a four-way tie, each team with one point.
The second half starts in a flurry. At the 49th minute, Vittek heads a cross from Sestak to make Slovakia’s first goal. New Zealand tries to put on the pressure only to have Slovakia really hold their own and get really confident in the second half of the game. Hamsik gets another chance at a goal, assisted quite nicely from Sestake, but it fails to connect. The game ends and we really start to worry about whether or not New Zealand can tie this up during injury time.
In the 94th minute, our worry disappeared as Winston Reid just hammers a header into the bottom right corner of the goal. It was an amazing goal – that tied up the game quite nicely.
A four way tie in Group F! Who will come out on top? Look out for New Zealand vs. Italy on June 20 at 9:15am ET and Slovakia vs. Paraguay earlier on at 7:15am ET.