“Now for Lima” – The story of our All Whites home leg

From snap-chatting fans to the return of Kiwi flag debates, this was it.

The international cheese to our local pie.

Set on an idyllic Wellington afternoon at Westpac Stadium, New Zealand had the opportunity to ooze international class, and make a real statement to their potential World Cup foes.

 

After a cagey opening half, where it took the All Whites over 25 minutes to mount their first full throttle attack, this FIFA Intercontinental Playoff was far from over as both sets of players headed to the sheds.

European superstar Ryan Thomas went close early, but that was as pretty as the opening exchanges would get as our match of the century soon settled into a competitive rhythm.

A team seemingly hell-bent on shoving New Zealand off the park, with spots of silky brilliance mixed in, Peru didn’t ever hold back.

And close they went.

 

Centimetres away from leading in the first 10 minutes, All Whites goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic’s fingertips were the only thing separating New Zealand from a one goal deficit.

And magic fingers were needed again just after the hour, accompanied by a hand, when Marinovic palmed away a promising Peruvian header.

Yet the All Whites weren’t all fun and games.

 

High octane, and buzzing from the first whistle, our boys were certainly up for it. As was the 37,000 strong crowd – marking the greatest attendance in New Zealand footballing folklore.

New Zealand’s chances were hurt after Burnley striker Chris Wood started off the bench following a hamstring injury, instead making a substitute appearance with 16 minutes remaining.

But his impact as the All Whites looked for a goal was immeasurable.

Excellent with the ball at his feet, and in the air, Wood brought a different element to the table – he knows this is his time to shine. In fact, his first touch produced the only real save that Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese had to make.

Stefan Marinovic saves the All Whites with his fingertips. ANDREW CORNAGA/PHOTOSPORT

The Peruvians are under incredible pressure to advance to next year’s finals for the first time since 1982, but despite having the lion-share of possession and dominating the first half through midfielder Christian Cueva and forward Jefferson Farfan, they appeared to fall short.

At least, for now.

 

Thomas had the opportunity to send 90% of Westpac Stadium into delirium when a loose ball fell to him as the clock ticked down, but his half-volley flashed agonizingly wide.

All White on the night? Certainly.

Now we go to Lima.

Brought to you in partnership with TotalFootball.