Herald football writer Michael Burgess assesses three talking points from the All Whites' 2-1 defeat against Mexico this afternoon.
1. Mexico plays for time
In all of the recent encounters between these two teams - four games dating back to 2010 - Mexico has cantered to the finish, as New Zealand has struggled to deal with the pace and movement of the North American side. Hence it was pleasing to see Mexico adopting a go slow approach in the last five minutes on Sunday, playing for time to preserve their 2-1 lead. They still looked the more dangerous side but were obviously wary of giving up a late goal to the visiting New Zealanders, who kept pushing right up until the final whistle.
2. Marco's moment
In one passage of play in the first half, Marco Rojas reminded everyone why Stuttgart were so keen on his services as a 21-year-old.
Rojas didn't make it in Europe but remains a mercurial talent and the way he skipped past two Mexican defenders on the edge of the penalty area was a delight, one of the best pieces of individual skill ever seen by someone in an All Whites shirt. Rojas will rue his tame finish - the play deserved a goal - but made amends with his strike early in the second half which drew the All Whites level.
3. Reid makes welcome return
Winston Reid might not yet be as good as Ryan Nelsen, but he has the same kind of effect on the All Whites. His physical presence, anticipation and pace was the vital element of an impressive defensive effort from the New Zealand side. The central trio of Reid, Michael Boxall and Themi Tzimopoulos coped well with much of the Mexican attacking threat, though they were caught ball watching for Mexico's second goal. Reid seemed to enjoy the occasion, and his ongoing presence is vital for Anthony Hudson's team over the next 12 months.