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Kiwis focus on qualification after 'biggest' result

New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert felt it was important to keep emotions in check after his side's momentous draw against Italy.

The All Whites produced the greatest result in their history as they held the defending champions 1-1 in a pulsating World Cup Group F clash at the Mbombela Stadium.

While that was enough to spark celebrations back in New Zealand, Herbert wanted to keep his eye on the bigger picture.

After two draws, New Zealand know they can now reach the second round for the first time by beating Paraguay in their final group match.

"The dressing room is great," Herbert said. "But we don't have much time to turn this one around -- we back up again on Thursday.

"We're balanced but the emotion is there and, needless to say, it will be a nice charter flight back to Serengeti."

New Zealand stunned Italy by taking a seventh-minute lead through ex-Halifax Town striker Shane Smeltz.

Italy responded with Riccardo Montolivo hitting the post, but it needed a controversial penalty to go level.

Tommy Smith was harshly adjudged to have fouled Daniele de Rossi, who went down at the slightest of shirt-pulls, and Vincenzo Iaquinta converted from the spot.

Thereafter Italy dominated but spurned several opportunities, and West Brom's Chris Wood almost won it for New Zealand late on.

Herbert did even think at one point his side might have won, but was satisfied enough with a result he felt answered critics and would propel New Zealand football to a new level.

Herbert added: "You can always dare to dream. It is a World Cup and anything is possible.

"We have seen some interesting results but I don't think we have seen one as big as that one. We're still in this group and that's probably surprising to 99.9pc of people in this room. I don't think anyone remotely gave us a chance. We are doing OK for a team that supposedly has some amateurs and shouldn't be in the World Cup."

Having already drawn with Paraguay, Italy are finding Group F unexpectedly tough.

The holders must now beat Slovakia at Ellis Park on Thursday to guarantee a place in the last 16.

Coach Marcello Lippi admitted his side were not at their best but is convinced they will progress.

"There was a lack of lucidity and we paid the price for that, but we didn't have much luck either," said Lippi.

"We can play better and we have to win the next match if we want to qualify for the next round."


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