It was really a glorified training session to help Australia prepare for next week's confederations cup matches. Given the All Whites hadn't played in about a year and have nothing to do until ... umm... ever... you are really relying on their innate fighting spirit when playing their western neighbours.
It just occurred to me there's no Haka for the All Whites... maybe they should consider it. It would be fun. Like Australia having the Jungle strip (aka the Vomit shirt) gave then an amusing bit of notoriety.
Australia certainly had what is commonly called the run of play and had an early opportunity after Josip Skoko was fouled just outside the box pretty much in front. The ball clipped the bar on it's way through for a goalkick.
Nevertheless New Zealand showed that they have a likely path to success twice managing to get close on set pieces from attempted, and in the latter case mistimed (Che Bunce), headers. I got the distinct impression the longer this thing plays out at 0-0 the more likely New Zealand start to realise that it's not impossible they could get something out of this. This is not the kind of mindset you want them to have.
Tim Cahill managed to raise the hopes of the good guys with a header at the far post which was deflected away by a NZ defender using equal parts of good positioning and good fortune. On several occasions there was a bit of penalty box pinball at the New Zealand end of the ground.
Notable also was the physicality of the match. I think I intimated it was New Zealand's best path to success already but both sides were quite wiling to commit to a challenge. One of Adrian Websters tackles brought a spectacular collapse of what I think was McKain. Still no card.
Brett Fisher missed a golden chance to give New Zealand a shock, well maybe unexpected is better, lead. Having managed to evade the last man (who has paid me handsomely to suppress his name because he's looking for a job after losing the one he had at Monchengladbach) he dragged his shot across, and wide of, Mark Schwarzer's goal.
New Zealand did get off the mark first, at least on the yellow card score, with Steven Old clumsily clattering into Josip Skoko as the latter jinked his way past. Or at least tried.
I don't think the players, as much as the fans and various pundits, really thought the final result was in question. Maybe so, but it does lend itself to the mindset that you only have to show up and the right things will happen. Of course unless you've paid the opposition off to score a few own goals that's not quite how it works. Frank Farina knows this as much as anyone on the pitch. It's a bit like knowing that eating the dessert will leave you bloated and make you fat, but eating it anyway. OK, so I'm a bit hungry... it's half past 5 in the morning as I write this and my literary skills don't really kick in until mid-morning.
As halftime rolled around and the scores remained... well... scoreless I got the distinct impression that it might have been a nice focus for one of those New Zealand half chances to go in. The kind of focus this would have given the Aussies might have helped. Of course maybe it would not, and hoping for your side to go down seems a bit wrong. All the same given the option I'd much prefer we go down in the first minute and have 89 more to rectify the natural order of things than go down in the 89th and then scramble for a minute in a doomed effort for redemption.
At half time, surprisingly, Kalac replaced Schwarzer. Still less than a minute in Jon McKain came through the middle and gave a defenders finish to a cross. So it was almost possible to say that replacing the goalkeeper was a good move as it produced a goal... heh. It seems that NZ had worked out that Skoko is a good player and appears to have been singled out for "close attention" as commentators like to say. I prefer Lisa Simpson's "Hack the bone, HACK THE BONE!!". All the same Aussie Captain Craig Moore did a good job of just that when putting a revenge tackle on Coveny after the two battled for a header seconds earlier. Moore got a yellow card for his trouble.
So on it goes. Australia has the bulk of play and chances. New Zealand, notably Webster with a blazing shot eluding a full stretch Kalac and the goal, have some bloody good chances too and still the score remains 0-0. This is the sort of thing that frustrates the fan and makes the game worth playing all at the same time. Certainly in games past Australia have been New Zealand to a great many nations.
With 6 substitutions allowed, New Zealand still had made none by the 70th minute while Australia had 3. As Che Bunce turned and weaved his own kind of magic and forced Kalac into a last ditch save it looked like a good way to go. I get the distinct impression New Zealand will come out moral winners, even if they lose. Not that the losing part seems particularly likely anymore.
Eventually New Zealand was forced into a substitution with a shoulder injury to Wilson after an awkward fall in a tackle. I'm tempted to suggest it is a little clearer why Ricky Herbert hadn't made use of the subs.
With about 6 minutes left a fierce series of attempts was valiantly blocked by New Zealand. It was as if Australia suddenly realised they were looking like coming out of this match looking worse than they did going in. A series of defensive blocks and goalkeeping heroics kept the ball out and it was sent towards Australia's end. But that only meant a brief reprieve as it was played down the left flank and played by Chipperfield towards Colosimo near the 'D' in a bit of space. Colosimo then stroked (and I think this is the perfect use of the word, finessed would have been good too) the ball inside the far post and beyond the diving hand of Paston for the lead.
It was a bit like I said about going down late versus going down early.. except it was happening to New Zealand. Predictably they could do little to counter this suckerpunch. Teehee.