New Zealand earned their first draw against European opposition in over a decade after a 1-1 stalemate with Republic of Ireland.
Not since the 2010 FIFA Men’s World Cup, where they held powerhouse Italy to a 1-1 draw, had the All Whites claimed a share of the spoils against a nation from Europe.
But that changed on Wednesday (AEDT) after Matthew Garbett’s 59th-minute equaliser cancelled out Adma Idah’s first-half opener at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, where Wellington Phoenix’s Tim Payne started for New Zealand.
“New Zealand played well, to be fair to them, and we didn’t play well in the second half. I take responsibility for that,” Ireland manager Stephen Kenny told RTE.
“To be fair to them, New Zealand were the better side, they probably should have won the game. They had enough chances in the second half and Travers made a couple of good saves,” Former Hibernian boss Pat Fenlon said via RTE.
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Ireland had the better of the match for the first third of the contest in what was James McLean’s 103rd and final senior appearance for the home side.
It may well have been Kenny’s final fixture in charge, with the Ireland boss out of contract on the final whistle.
After the All Whites enjoyed early possession, Ireland pierced New Zealand’s defence in the 28th minute – Mark Sykes found Idah, who made no mistake approaching the half-hour mark.
Chris Wood came close to restoring parity seven minutes later but his effort sped across goal.
Sarpreet Singh had too good opportunities for the All Whites prior to half time as he saw Caoimhin Kelleher claw a curling attempt out of the top corner before firing into the set netting.
Garbett wasted a chance within four minutes of the second half restarting for New Zealand – who introduced Macarthur FC’s Clayton Lewis, but he was not to be denied approaching the hour.
The ball fell to Garbett on the edge of the box and he fired it past the helpless Mark Travers, who replaced Kelleher at half-time.
Ireland’s Mikey Johnston added: “New Zealand are actually a very good side. There’s boys that have come in not playing games, there’s a lot of boys that got opportunities they deserve.”