New Zealand’s 2022 World Cup dream is over, ended by a few key moments and decisions made in the VAR room at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
The All Whites lost 1-0 to Costa Rica in their sudden-death play-off to decide the last of 32 places at this year’s FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar.
But the power of the New Zealand performance was demonstrated by match statistics that showed the All Whites having two-thirds of the game’s possession and registering 15 shots on goal compared to Costa Rica’s four.
And that was despite New Zealand being down to 10 men for the last 22 minutes of the match.
The game was decided by a few key moments:
2-min: Costa Rica score
Before the All Whites had chance to settle, Costa Rica broke down the left and a fairly tame-looking cross came into the penalty area.
Former Arsenal striker Joel Campbell got between defenders and managed to get a foot to the ball, angling it past a fully-stretched Oli Sail.
36-min: Claims for New Zealand penalty
The ball is sent into the Costa Rica box, striker Chris Wood gets to it and goes down.
The decision goes upstairs where three Qatar officials are responsible for the VAR review.
38-min: Wood ‘goal’ ruled out by VAR
Matt Garbett gets a deflected cross into the danger area and Wood positions himself perfectly, smashing the ball into net.
The All Whites think they’ve levelled the score, and rush to celebrate with fans behind the goal.
However, the VAR officials are winding back the footage of the play.
They have seen Matt Garbett and his marker go to ground. They decide Garbett had committed a foul.
The ‘goal’ is disallowed.
68-min: Barbarouses sent off
Kosta Barbarouses has been brought on as a second-half substitute and is still getting used to the pace of the game when he lunges into a tackle.
Referee Mohammed Abdulla Hassan Mohamed gives the free-kick and shows Barbarouses the yellow card.
In the VAR room, they’re looking at the tackle again.
The yellow card turns into a red card. New Zealand are down to 10 for the rest of the match.
This game will be remembered for two things — the impact of a few refereeing decisions, and the display by a New Zealand team that ranks among the best in many years.
The world’s 31st-ranked team were playing the side rated 101st by the FIFA world rankings.
The neutral observer could be forgiven for thinking New Zealand were the higher-ranked side.
In the game’s final moments, with tired legs and 10 men, it was the New Zealanders pushing forward, winning repeat corners and putting the Costa Ricans under pressure.
Back in his goal, Oli Sail was watching the action from distance, having not been called up to make any significant save since the game’s second moment.
After four minutes of added time, the All Whites’ cup campaign was over.
Main photo: The final whistle blows … it’s all over for the All Whites.
New Zealand 0
Costa Rica 1 (Joel Campbell 2′)
Played at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Doha, Qatar
More play-off coverage
New Zealand line-up
New Zealand lined up with a 3-1-4-2 formation, while Costa Rica set up with 4-2-3-1.
Starting line-up, and substitutions:
Sail, Pijnaker, Reid (c) (Just 72’) Tuiloma, Cacace, Kirwan (Payne 79’) Bell, Lewis (Stamenic 79’) Garbett (Waine 60’), Greive (Barbarouses, 60’), Wood.
Callum McCowatt and Marco Rojas were ruled out of the matchday squad due to illness and remained at the team’s hotel.
Goalkeepers: Matthew Gould, Stefan Marinovic, Oli Sail
Defenders: Michael Boxall, Liberato Cacace, Francis de Vries, Dane Ingham, Niko Kirwan, Tim Payne, Nando Pijnaker, Winston Reid, Tommy Smith, Bill Tuiloma
Midfielders: Joe Bell, Matt Garbett, Elijah Just, Clayton Lewis, Marco Rojas, Marko Stamenic
Forwards: Kosta Barbarouses, Joey Champness, Alex Greive, Callum McCowatt, Logan Rogerson, Ben Waine, Chris Wood
Goalkeepers: Aaron Cruz, Leonel Moreira, Keylor Navas
Defenders: Francisco Calvo, Daniel Chacón, Óscar Duarte, Keysher Fuller, Ian Lawrence, Carlos Martinez, Bryan Oviedo, Juan Pablo Vargas, Kendall Waston
Midfielders: Brandon Aguilera, Jewison Bennette, Celso Borges, Orlando Galo, Carlos Mora, Bryan Ruiz, Yeltsin Tejada, Gerson Torres
Forwards: Joel Campbell, Anthony Contreras, Johan Venegas