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Reid levels for New Zealand
Winston Reid scored a dramatic equaliser deep into injury time to give New Zealand their first-ever point in the World Cup finals.

It was also New Zealand's first goal in the finals for 28 years and sparked wild celebrations among the All Whites supporters inside the Royal Bafokeng stadium.

Reid was booked for his own celebration when he ripped off his shirt and twirled it around his head after bulleting home a header from Shane Smeltz's cross.

It was an historic moment in New Zealand football, considering the Kiwis had lost all three of their previous group matches at their only other appearance in the finals in 1982.

Reid's late strike cancelled out a 50th-minute goal from Slovakia's Robert Vittek, which was also historic. It was the nation's first-ever goal in their debut match at the World Cup finals.

Vittek repaid the faith his manager, Vladimir Weiss, had shown in him after he went through the qualifying campaign without scoring. It was also a flying header, drilled past New Zealand goalkeeper Mark Paston.

Although television replays suggested Vittek, who has been playing his football for Ankaragucu in Turkey on a loan deal from Lille, might have been offside when he met a sweet cross from Stanislas Sestak, it was just reward for Slovakia's superior ambition.

They were the better side, outplaying for long periods a New Zealand team whose only previous finals appearance in 1982 ended in three straight defeats, 3-0 to the Soviet Union, 4-0 to Brazil and 5-2 to Scotland.

The All Whites are a side comprising five English league players, captain Ryan Nelsen from Blackburn, Chris Killen from Middlesbrough, Ipswich's Tommy Smith, Plymouth's Rory Fallon and substitute Chris Wood from West Brom who replaced Killen in the second-half.

They have plenty of guts and pride, but technically they were some way inferior to a Slovak side for whom 20-year-old Vladimir Weiss, the manager's son who played just one game for Manchester City before being loaned out to Bolton last season, was a constant inspiration in midfield.

The first half was just about as sterile a 45 minutes as this goal-starved World Cup has witnessed. The most exciting moment came from a mistake from Paston who fluffed his kick-out. Vittek pounced on the mistake and looked like making New Zealand pay but Paston recovered to smother his attempt.

The action was so pedestrian it had to improve and it did with Vittek's goal allowing Slovakia to play with more freedom.

Until the last five minutes New Zealand's best effort had been when Killen rose highest in the penalty area but dispatched his header straight into the arms of Slovakia goalkeeper Jan Mucha.

Yet they mounted a spirited late rally which saw substitute Wood go close with a diving header.

Little were we to know an even better one was to come from Reid to leave New Zealand, Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay locked on a point each in Group F.
 
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