Paraguay progress, NZ exit unbeaten

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Paraguay progress, NZ exit unbeaten

Paraguay qualified for the last 16 of the World Cup despite being held to a goalless draw by a well-organised New Zealand in their Group F match on Thursday.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:42 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:18 AM

New Zealand were eliminated after three draws but had the satisfaction of finishing higher than holders Italy who also went out after losing 3-2 to Slovakia and finished bottom.

Paraguay’s coach Gerardo Martino was pleased to get through to the second round but unhappy with his side’s performance.

“We played very badly in the first half and we played better in the second half,” he said after the match.

“I’m pleased with the qualification but not with the way we played. We had a lot of problems in an area where we didn’t expect, and that was in attack.”

Striker Roque Santa Cruz agreed the game had been poor.

“We’re very happy to have qualified but it was a very difficult game,” he said. “The game got boring because they were so defensive. In a game like this you expect to win but the important thing is we qualified.”

New Zealand, who had also held Slovakia and Italy, came into the tournament considered to be one of the weakest teams, and coach Ricki Herbert was thrilled the side had remained unbeaten.

“I think I need to pinch myself,” he told reporters. “If you are going to exit the World Cup there are good ways of doing it.

“A lot of people thought we shouldn’t be here and that we had amateurs who were not up to it. But I think that’s dead and buried now,” he added, reserving special praise for keeper Mark Paston who conceded just two goals during the tournament.

“The guys were immense again,” Paston said. “To be fair Paraguay didn’t have a huge amount of chances, it was just a shame we couldn’t find a goal we needed.”


In a largely forgettable first half, Paraguay enjoyed the better possession but were unable to translate that into real goalscoring opportunities.

The best two efforts came from skipper and right-back Denis Caniza with two long range efforts.

Paraguay knew that a point would be enough to see them into the second round and they showed little ambition to go beyond that minimum requirement while New Zealand defended well but lacked creativity going forward.

The first corner of the match did not come until the 62nd minute and it almost resulted in a goal with Cristian Riveros well saved by New Zealand keeper Mark Paston.

Paraguay brought on forwards Lucas Barrios and Edgar Benitez in a bid to liven up their attack and the move nearly paid off when, after the best move of the game, Benitez produced a curling shot that was pushed out.

New Zealand, who knew a win would send them through, brought on 18-year-old forward Chris Wood to give them some fresh legs in attack but failed to create any real openings.

Paraguay continued to produce the better chances with Santa Cruz bringing a good save out of Paston from an 80th minute free kick.

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