Sun, Nov 12, 2017 - Page 10 News List

NZ, Peru hold each other off 0-0


New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic reaches for the ball as a shot from Peru sails over the goal yesterday in their World Cup playoff game in Wellington.

Photo: Reuters

Oceania champion New Zealand yesterday held Peru to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their intercontinental World Cup playoff that will decide the final qualifier for Russia next year.

The teams are to head to Lima next week for the second leg, with the South Americans hoping to return to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years and New Zealand looking to make their third appearance at the finals.

Peru, who finished fifth in the South American qualifying tournament and are ranked 10th in the world, were heavily favored to beat New Zealand, but struggled in the absence of star striker and captain, Paolo Guerrero, who was suspended after failing a doping test.

New Zealand, ranked 122nd in the world, also suffered a setback before kickoff when key striker Chris Wood was forced out of the starting lineup because of a lingering hamstring injury, but steadily grew in confidence as the match progressed and brought on the Burnley forward as a second-half substitute as they pressed for a late goal.

Peru head coach Ricardo Gareca said he believes his side deserved to win the match and reassured the team’s supporters they were determined to win at home and end their long World Cup drought.

“We have many fans and everyone is behind the team and I want to tell them that we have a good chance to qualify but it won’t be easy,” he said. “Don’t worry about this result because the team will still give 100 percent in its attempt to qualify.”

New Zealand manager Anthony Hudson said it was significant that his team did not give up an away goal, although he said: “The mindset is we’ve achieved nothing.”

“The key for us, and we said this at the beginning, it’s not a 90 minute match, it’s 180 minutes,” he said. “We have to still be in the game in the last 15 minutes over in Lima. This suits us. We’re accustomed to that sort of adversity.”

Peru has qualified for the World Cup on four previous occasions, reaching the quarter-finals in 1970, but has not made it back since 1982.

They edged out Chile on goal difference to finish fifth in the South American qualifiers and book a place in the intercontinental playoffs against the champions of Oceania, the only regional confederation not guaranteed direct entry.

New Zealand have qualified for the World Cup finals just twice before, in 1982 and 2010.

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