Herbert hails greatest day

  • Last Updated: June 20 2010, 21:07 BST

New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert celebrated one of the greatest results in his country's sporting history after holding world champions Italy to a draw on Sunday.

Herbert - delighted with famous draw.

The All Whites withstood a barrage of second-half pressure to cling onto a 1-1 scoreline and claim a point from a pulsating World Cup Group F clash.

It might even have been better had Italy not benefited from a controversial penalty which allowed Vincenzo Iaquinta to cancel out Shane Smeltz's early opener.

Nevertheless it was still a remarkable result for the 2,000/1 rank outsiders.

Herbert said: "I think it has stopped the nation. I think it is the most incredible result we've had.

"I know it is early in the morning in New Zealand but I think there will be a lot of excitement back home.

"It's more than anything we have achieved in the history of the game. I think it will be embraced enormously."

The surprise result kept alive New Zealand's hopes of qualifying for the second round for the first time in their history.

They now face Paraguay in their final game on Thursday knowing that a win will take them through.

Herbert added: "A lot of people felt we shouldn't be in the World Cup or felt the way we qualified was easy. You can write your stories now.

"I don't think anyone remotely gave us a chance. We are doing okay for a team that supposedly has some amateurs and shouldn't be in the World Cup."

Italy dominated the second period and had numerous chances but could not find away past the resolute Kiwi defence or outstanding goalkeeper Mark Paston.

Riccardo Montolivo did hit the post in the first half but it needed a soft foul on Daniele De Rossi in box to allow Italy to draw level.

Having found the group unexpectedly tough, Italy must now beat Slovakia to guarantee their passage.

Coach Marcello Lippi said: "We weren't as lucid or enterprising as we should have been at times but we hit the woodwork once and went close.

"But it was not enough. We dominated but we did not create enough goalscoring opportunities. I don't know why.

"There was no lack of will on our part. We did lack a few other things, but it wasn't easy.

"Now we have to win, there is no other way around it.

"We have to win the next match if we want to qualify for the next round.

"We had quality on the pitch but we didn't tap into it.

"We did very little of what we can do and we can do a lot better."