Wed, Oct 13, 2010 - Page 19 News List

Paraguay end New Zealand unbeaten run with 2-0 win

AP, WELLINGTON

New Zealand goalkeeper Mark Paston watches as the ball sails into the back of the net from a penalty by Paraguay’s Nelson Valdez during their friendly in Wellington yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Paraguay ended New Zealand’s long unbeaten run with a 2-0 victory in a friendly yesterday.

New Zealand were the only unbeaten team at the World Cup — drawing three group matches while failing to reach the second round — and extended that streak with a 1-1 draw on Saturday against Honduras in their first match since.

However Paraguay, 19th in FIFA rankings, ended 49th-ranked New Zealand’s charmed run with two first-half goals in a dominant performance.

Nelson Valdez scored from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute with Osvaldo Martinez extending the lead five minutes later.

New Zealand were without captain, Blackburn Rovers central defender Ryan Nelsen, and Turkish-based striker Shane Smeltz, who were both injured.

The New Zealand defense was lax and disorganized and in the absence of Smeltz, New Zealand lacked a sharp focus for its attacking play.

Paraguay in contrast were seldom tested in defense — goalkeeper and captain but their attack was slick and constantly threatening. Valdez was the fulcrum of the offense but Enrique Vera, Dario Veron and Martinez were also dangerous and inventive.

New Zealand showed a lack of concentration and composure in the first half of a match played in front of 16,000 fans. They tightened their defense in the second period but, as with the match against Honduras, failed to capitalize on a handful of scoring chances.

“I guess that wraps up 2010 with a tinge of sadness but there have been some great emotions,” All Whites coach Ricki Herbert said.

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