All Whites keep feet on the ground

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New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert felt it was important to keep emotions in check after his side's momentous draw against Italy.

The All Whites produced the greatest result in their history as they held the champions 1-1 in a pulsating World Cup Group F clash at the Mbombela Stadium.

While that was enough to spark celebrations back in New Zealand, Herbert wanted to keep his eye on the bigger picture.

After two draws, New Zealand know they can now reach the second round for the first time by beating Paraguay in their final group match.

"The dressing room is great," Herbert said.

"But we don't have much time to turn this one around - we back up again on Thursday.

"We're very balanced but the emotion is there and needless to say it will be a nice charter flight back to Serengeti."

New Zealand stunned Italy by taking a seventh-minute lead through former Halifax Town striker Shane Smeltz.

Italy responded with Riccardo Montolivo hitting the post but it needed a controversial penalty to haul them level.

Tommy Smith was harshly adjudged to have fouled Daniele de Rossi, who went down at the slightest of shirt pulls, and Vincenzo Iaquinta converted from the spot.

Thereafter Italy dominated but spurned a number of opportunities and West Brom's Chris Wood almost snatched victory for New Zealand late on.

Herbert did even think at one point his side might have won, but was satisfied enough with a result he felt answered critics and would propel New Zealand football to a new level.

Herbert added: "You can always dare to dream. It is a World Cup and anything is possible.

"We have seen some interesting results but I don't think we have seen one as big as that one.

"We're still in this group and that's probably surprising to 99.9% of people in this room.

"I don't think anyone remotely gave us a chance. We are doing okay for a team that supposedly has some amateurs and shouldn't be in the World Cup.

"I think it is the most incredible result we've had. It's more than anything we have achieved in the history of the game."

Having already drawn with Paraguay, Italy are finding Group F unexpectedly tough.

The holders must now beat Slovakia at Johannesburg's Ellis Park on Thursday to guarantee a place in the last 16.

Coach Marcello Lippi admitted his side were not at their best but is convinced they still have the quality to progress.

"I think there was a lack of lucidity and we paid the price for that but we didn't have much luck either," said Lippi.

"We had quality on the pitch but we didn't tap into it. We can play better and we have to win the next match if we want to qualify for the next round."

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