All Whites fall to Peru in lead-up to World Cup qualifier

Chris Wood of New Zealand battles for possession with Peru's Carlos Zambrano. Photo: Getty Images
Chris Wood of New Zealand battles for possession with Peru's Carlos Zambrano. Photo: Getty Images

The All Whites have fallen to Peru - but not without an outstanding fight.

The New Zealand side produced a superb effort, in remarkable circumstances, with the South Americans eventually prevailing 1-0.

Their 69th minute goal came after an unfortunate error from keeper Oli Sail, which allowed Gianluca Lapadula to guide the ball into an empty net.

That was a shame, as it released the pressure valve on Peru, who were playing in front of 32,149 expectant fans.

All Whites replacement Ben Waine came close to an equaliser, but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Peru deserved their victory, having hit the woodwork twice and created several other chances, but the All Whites will believe they were good enough to earn a rare result against a South American team, with a performance that offers massive encouragement for the impending Costa Rica challenge.

Matt Garbett was simply outstanding, with Libby Cacace, Joe Bell and Winston Reid also prominent.

The game will be remembered as one of the great occasions in New Zealand football history, with an electric atmosphere. It felt like you were in Lima, with the energy pouring down from the grandstands

The scenes outside the stadium before the game were unbelievable. Peruvian supporters had converged from across Spain - and the world - and were ready to celebrate, with their flares, fireworks and magnificent songs, often accompanied by drums or a brass section.

The All Whites arrived two hours before kickoff, though their significant police escort wasn't needed, as they entered via back roads.

Coach Danny Hay opted for a central back three of Tommy Smith, Winston Reid and Bill Tuiloma, flanked by the wing backs of Libby Cacace and Niko Kirwan. Alex Greive was at the top of a midfield diamond, ahead of Marko Stamenic, Joe Bell and Matt Garbett, with Chris Wood leading the line.

The match kicked off in baking conditions, almost 30 degrees at 5:30pm local time.

It was a nervy start, as Lapadula got in behind, but his cross eluded everyone with the goal exposed.

From there New Zealand settled into their work. Peru monopolised possession, but the All Whites had their moments, with Cacace and Garbett prominent.

There were some needless giveaways – with Danny Hay urging patience on the sideline – but New Zealand's shape meant the wide players in particular could get isolated.

An alert Sail tipped away a goal bound cross – after Kirwan and Tuiloma were exposed on the right – as Peru upped the ante. They were unlucky not to take the lead from the corner, with Victor Flores smashing a 25 metre half volley against the crossbar.

That roused the crowd, and Peru started to find more space from deep runs, though Sail bounded out of goal for some timely interventions.

The All Whites' best first half moment came in the 43rd minute, with Greive stinging the palms of the Peruvian keeper. The move started after Garbett won possession near halfway. Cacace then found Wood, who directed the ball back to the St Mirren striker, for a clean first time shot.

Clayton Lewis (Stamenic) and Nando Pijnaker (Smith) came on after halftime, with Lewis in particular making a positive impact. The All Whites enjoyed a flurry of half chances just after the break, with Cacace combining well with Wood on the edge of the area, before Bell just failed to find the Newcastle striker with an angled through ball.

Some of the first time passing was a sight to behold, as the All Whites began to find their groove, looking to play forward more.

Payne replaced Tuiloma in the 67th minute, as Peru rang the changes, before the goal out of nowhere. It was a nightmare moment for Sail – who saw his clearance charged down – allowing Lapadula an easy task.

Peru went close minutes later, with a shot deflected onto the post.

By that stage Waine and Kosta Barbarouses were also introduced, for Wood and Greive respectively, as Hay started to think ahead to Costa Rica.

Waine almost made an immediate impact, sliding in to convert a Cacace cross, but was judged marginally offside, in what must have been a tight call.

The All Whites pushed until the end, with Cacace snapping a right foot shot, but Peru held on for the result they craved.

- By Michael Burgess

All Whites 0
Peru 1 (Gianluca Lapadula 69')

Halftime 0-0


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