All Whites go down fighting

By Michael Burgess at Westpac Stadium

Jeremy Brockie of New Zealand competes with Francisco Javier Rodriguez of Mexico for the ball during leg 2 of the FIFA World Cup Qualifier match. Photo / Getty Images.
Jeremy Brockie of New Zealand competes with Francisco Javier Rodriguez of Mexico for the ball during leg 2 of the FIFA World Cup Qualifier match. Photo / Getty Images.

All Whites 2
Mexico 4

It's adios Ricki and vamos Mexico.

Despite a spirited late comeback from the home side, when the All Whites scored two goals in five minutes, Mexico were in control of this game from almost the first whistle.

It was again an illustration of the gulf between the two sides; apart from the disparity in world rankings, consider that Mexico has an 18 team professional league while New Zealand has the Wellington Phoenix.

For the All Whites there is a base to build on, as the core of this team is young. Stranded on his couch in London, Winston Reid's absence was magnified again, as Andrew Durante in particular couldn't cope with the pacy Mexican attack. Any review of this campaign does need to highlight the completely inadequate build up and planning, which left the team ill prepared for the might of Mexico.

Without Reid, and Ryan Nelsen, this All Whites' team has become shaky on defence, though the passing and movement of El Tri was exceptional at times.

Herbert's selection for this game was brave but two rookies on the flanks went too far.

Durante and Tommy Smith were pulled out of position as Storm Roux in particular struggled to cope in the first half, though he improved when switched to left back in the second half.

There were moments that brought the fans to their feet; Marco Rojas' Cryuff turn and twisting run through three defenders, Chris James' assured penalty, Rory Fallon's neat finish and Smith's brave crash into his own post to prevent a Mexican goal.

Bill Tuiloma looked assured from the start and has a bright future, Roux struggled as the first three Mexican goals came down his flank.

After a positive start, where the All Whites created some half chances, they conceded a calamitous goal in the 15th minute. After winning possession in midfield, the Mexicans sprung forward, before Oribe Peralta was released to chip over a stranded Glen Moss.

The manner of the goal wasn't a complete surprise - this New Zealand backline had never played together - but it served to stifle the momentum of the home side and quieten the near capacity crowd.

The second goal was worse. El Tri broke on the counter attack after a poor All Whites free kick and Carlos Pena out-sprinted Durante - whose elevation to the international arena has coincided with poorest form of his career - and Peralta had a simple finish.

Peralta added a third three minutes later though the home side weren't helped by the assistant referee, as two of Mexico's goals had a hint of offside about them.

Jeremy Brockie's penalty miss in the 39th minute summed up the first half; New Zealand created chances but couldn't make the right final decision. Why was the Phoenix striker taking the spot kick, when Shane Smeltz, one of the best marksman in the A League, is in the team? It was a particularly poor attempt.

The sting went out of the game in the second half, as Mexico were content to keep possession. The All Whites continued to press forward, and goals from James and Fallon at least allowed the team to finish with some pride.

New Zealand 2(C. James 80, R.Fallon 84)
Mexico 4 (O. Peralta 15, 29, 33, Pena 87)
Halftime: 3-0

- Herald on Sunday

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