Italy should be punished for their "notorious theatrics" in  yesterday's 1-1 draw with New Zealand at the soccer World Cup in South Africa, former All Whites coach John Adshead says.
New Zealand, ranked 78th in the world, delivered one of the shocks of the tournament in depriving world champions Italy of victory in Nelspruit. 
The All Whites opened the scoring with a Shane Smeltz goal in the seventh minute, and Italy equalised with a penalty in the 29th taken by Vincenzo Iaquinta.
New Zealand held on as Italy piled on the pressure and had numerous shots at goal. At the final whistle, white-clad supporters in the stands were left shouting for joy while their Italian counterparts sat stunned.
Adshead, who coached the All Whites during the 1982 World Cup,  said the result was wonderful.
"Absolutely incredible, stunning, you can't use enough superlatives to pronounce the end result," he said.
If New Zealand continued to play a tight defence and took the chances that came their way, then the next stage of the tournament was not out of reach, he said.
However, even without considering getting past the group stage, Adshead said the team had outstripped all past achievements by the country in the sport.
"We've played world-class teams now, four in the run-up and two in games, and nobody's embarrassed us. We haven't looked out of place in this," he said.
Italy's penalty, which came about when Tommy Smith was booked for tugging the shirt of Daniele De Rossi, who tumbled in the box, was questioned by the New Zealand camp.
Adshead said while the penalty could not be disputed, the "notorious theatrics" of the European team contributed to it being called.
"The penalty was a penalty, you can't get away from that technically. But I've seen many, many referees not give them. He was fouled a little bit, but you'll see that in midfield quite regularly and you'll never see major things given against the players," Adshead said.
"After watching the game for about 12 minutes, I wrote down, 'The referee is being influenced by the Italian defenders and will give penalty at the first opportunity', and he did.
"If a New Zealand attacker got within three or four metres they were holding their heads and falling down."
Adshead said the drama was nothing new for the side.
"The Italians are past masters of the theatrical. They go down like they've been poleaxed and when you look at it in slow motion they've been touched by a finger or whatever," he said.
"I would love to see these people feigning injury, falling down when nobody's touched them, going down under a banner of seeking to gain an unfair advantage, be punished accordingly, even after the game."
The improvement in goalkeeper Mark Paston since  the 1-1 draw with Slovakia was of particular note, he said.
Meanwhile, coach Ricki Herbert sang his team's praises.  "How many times do I have to say it? These boys just keep responding and they've done it again."
Herbert said he did not think the refereeing calls had gone New Zealand's way, labelling them "a little strange".

 New Zealand  play Paraguay  at 2am Friday (NZ time).