Ex-Swan Fallon inspires Kiwi into cup

14 November 2009 09:03
New Zealand have reached the World Cup finals for the second time in their history with victory over Bahrain in their qualifying play-off second leg.Striker Rory Fallon scored the decisive goal at the Westpac Stadium in the final minute of the first half with a header from a Leo Bertos corner. [LNB]All Whites goalkeeper Mark Paston also saved a 51st-minute penalty from Bahrain's Sayed Adnan. [LNB]The last time New Zealand reached the finals was in Spain in 1982. [LNB]With the sides drawing the opening match 0-0, Bahrain knew that a score draw would ensure their progress. [LNB]They attacked from the start but after weathering the opening onslaught, New Zealand fought their way into the game.[LNB] Well done NZ sclaph10 Leo Bertos and Celtic's Chris Killen both hit the woodwork while a Fallon header was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Sayed Jafaar. [LNB]Fallon did strike just before the break but the visitors were handed a route back into the tie when Tony Lochhead fouled Abdulla Omar in the box although Paston stopped Adnan's weak effort. [LNB]New Zealand's Shane Smeltz had an opportunity to kill the game off in the 70th minute when he was put through by Bertos, but his deft flick went just wide. [LNB]"This group of players has given everything to achieve this dream, everything over the last four years," said New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert, who was a member of the defensive line that played in Spain. [LNB]"It's incredible. We're back. We're there." [LNB]New Zealand skipper Ryan Nelsen, who plays for Blackburn, paid tribute to the 35,100 fans in Wellington - a record for a football match in the country. [LNB]"The crowd was incredible and I don't know if we could have won it without them," he said. [LNB]"They were our 12th man today and they got us home. I've played in some incredible atmospheres but this is right up there." [LNB]Bahrain also came close to securing a place at the last World Cup but lost out to Trinidad and Tobago at the same stage.

Source: BBC_Sport