World Cup 2010 - Paraguay send Kiwis home

Eurosport - Thu, 24 Jun 16:55:00 2010

Paraguay finished top of Group F and ended unbeaten New Zealand's World Cup hopes after the pair played out a wretched 0-0 draw in Polokwane.

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The South Americans enjoyed most of the possession and chances, but could not find a way through a stubborn New Zealand defence.

New Zealand ended their tournament unbeaten with three draws, while Paraguay win the section with five points, a point ahead of Slovakia, whose 3-2 win over deposed world champions Italy was enough to claim second place in the section.

The Paraguay keeper Justo Villar did not have to make a save in the 90 minutes.

Paraguay will face the runners-up of Group E, Japan or Denmark , in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Young New Zealand keeper Mark Paston can be proud of his role in helping his country claim their third straight draw of the group stages.

Paraguay had met New Zealand only once before in a friendly in 1995 with the South American side enjoying a 3-2 win.

New Zealand had never kept a clean sheet at the World Cup, but they were buoyed by draws with Slovakia and Italy in their first two games - their only points in the fabled history of the tournament.

The Kiwis were unbeaten in their last five competitive matches stretching back to the Confederations Cup a year ago when they lost 2-0 to South Africa in Polokwane.

The World Cup has witnessed some listless matches over the years, but the first half of this match would get the sport closed down.

To say it was bland, would be too charitable. Paraguay, so inventive and cunning in the 1-1 draw with Italy and a 2-0 defeat of Slovakia, were restricted to overly ambitious shots from distance which flew wide or high.

They got what they came for, but they will surely have to produce a far higher level at the last 16 stage.

Captain Denis Caniza, on his 99th appearance and in a fourth World Cup finals, a national record, looked like he had a bet on himself to get the first goal as he tried at least four shots at goal which Kiwi keeper Paston admired as they sailed away from the target.

Paston's only stop of the opening period came from Nelson Valdez on 34 minutes.

The Borussia Dortmund player accepted a neat pass from Roque Santa Cruz, but his 30-yard effort proved to be a simple clasp for Paston.

With Ryan Nelsen thriving at the heart of a three-man defence, New Zealand were the happier side at the half-time break. They knew that one goal could carry them through with Italy trailing 1-0 to Slovakia in the other group game.

Paston had made only two saves by the hour mark, but he was up to the task when called upon in the 75th minute when he made a fine diving stop to deny Edgar Benitez's header.

Barrios almost followed up, but New Zealand survived.

New Zealand were rarely seen as an attacking force, but Paston helped ensure his team their third point of the group when he beat out Santa Cruz's free-kick 11 minutes from the end.

Match Stats

Paraguay v New Zealand

Goals 0-0

1st Half Goals 0-0

Shots on Target 4-0

Shots off Target 10-3

Blocked Shots 3-1

Corners 2-0

Fouls 12-19

Offsides 1-2

Yellow Cards 2-1

Red Cards 0-0

Passing Success 79.5%-65.1%

Tackles 20-22

Tackles Success 75%-77.3%

Possession 65.7%-34.3%

Territorial Advantage 52.6%-47.4%

Desmond Kane / Eurosport

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