[GROUP F]In a World Cup seriously lacking in entertainment, it was nice to see an underdog be rewarded -- and in dramatic fashion at that. Former Danish youth star Winston Reid's goal in stoppage time gave New Zealand a 1-1 tie with Slovakia on Tuesday. For what we liked and didn't like about the two Group F games ...
What we liked ...
--Winston Reid scored the first stoppage-time goal of the 2010 World Cup, and it earned underdog New Zealand a 1-1 tie with Slovakia. While born in New Zealand, the 21-year-old Reid grew up in Denmark and has played all his soccer there. He even represented Denmark at the youth level before switching to the Kiwis this spring in timefor the World Cup.
-- New Zealand had a American flavor, using four players with U.S. connections. Ryan Nelsen and Simon Elliott both played at Stanford, and Tony Lochhead played at UC Santa Barbara. All later played in MLS. Jeremy Christie joined the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the D-2 Pro League this season.
-- As it has shown in South American qualifying, where it stood toe to tie with the big boys Argentina and Brazil, Paraguay is not a team you want to face. It got a well deserved goal Antolin Alcaraz and took a lead into the second half against defending World Cup champion Italy before settling for a 1-1 tie.
What we didn't like ...
-- Will Italy become the first team to defend its World Cup title since Brazil did in 1962? On the basis of their performance against Paraguay, the Azzurri have no chance. Their many newcomers didn't show much. It didn't help that goalie Gianluigi Buffon, Italy's biggest star, left the game with a back injury. Reports are that he has a problem with the sciatic nerve in the left side of his back and he may be lost for the tournament.
-- Slovakia needed the three points if it hoped to challenge Italy and Paraguay for the top two spots, but it disappointed against New Zealand. In particular, Marek Hamsik, its 22-year-old Napoli star, had a poor game.
-- The crowd of 23,871 in Rustenburg for the New Zealand-Slovakia game was the lowest of the tournament by a considerable margin.