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New Zealand hold champs Italy to 1-1 draw

June 20th, 2010 SindhToday

Nelspruit (South Africa), June 20 (DPA) Football World Cup minnows New Zealand held Italy to a 1-1 draw Sunday, denting the reigning champion’s chances of topping Group F.

At the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, the All Whites took a surprise early lead with Shane Smeltz, who took advantage of a defensive slip by ageing captain Fabio Cannavaro to tap in from close range.

Italy poured forward but could only manage an equalizer through a well-struck penalty by Vincenzo Iaquinta in the 29th minute. The Azzurri kept attacking for much of the second half, but lacked ideas and could only manage ineffective finishes from long range.

The result leaves Italy with just two points from as many games. And with Paraguay firmly in the lead on four points, the Azzurri’s chances of topping the group after their final game against Slovakia look slim.

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