A stoppage-time goal denied New Zealand of a second win at the FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup forcing them to settle for a 2-2 draw with Uzbekistan.
Leading 2-1 after 90 minutes, New Zealand looked set to clinch a place in the Round of 16 but a desperate Uzbekistan conjured an equaliser to keep alive their own hopes of making the knockout stages of the tournament in Argentina.
Earlier, outstanding goals by Ben Wallace and Jay Herdman had put New Zealand in front, despite having only a third of the game’s possession.
The result left New Zealand watching for the result of the Argentina-Guatemala match to be played later in the day, so they know what they need to achieve in their last pool game, against the hosts on Saturday.
Main photo: A delighted Jay Herdman acknowledges the New Zealand supporters after his goal gives his side a 2-0 lead.
New Zealand coach Darren Bazeley made five changes to his starting line-up, in line with his pre-match comments in which he said he wanted to go into the game with “fresh legs”.
As expected, Uzbekistan pushed forward from the kick-off, knowing only a win would keep them in the tournament.
By midway through the first half, Uzbekistan had dominated possession and looked the most dangerous.
But Ben Wallace put New Zealand ahead with a superb strike in the 23rd minute.
Collecting the ball 35 metres from goal, Wallace steadied himself and fired his shot hard and low, the ball sneaking inside the post.
The New Zealand defence was holding firm, with captain Finn Surman making several key blocks and tackles.
As the interval approached, New Zealand doubled their lead with a clever goal by midfielder Jay Herdman.
He received a short pass from Fin Conchie, dragged the ball back and turned to shoot from 20 metres into the top far corner of the goal.
By half-time, New Zealand had managed their 2-0 lead with only 32% of the game’s possession and with an under-par pass accuracy of 57%.
Compared to Uzbekistan’s 11 first-half shots, New Zealand had managed two — both of which found the net.
The New Zealanders created the first chance of the second half, when Jackson Jarvie crossed for Dan McKay to head into the hands of goalkeeper Otabek Boymurodov.
Uzbekistan pulled back a goal six minutes into the half when Abbosbek Fayzullaev got free of the defenders to smash a shot past goalkeeper Kees Sims from eight metres.
Two minutes later, Makhmudion Makhamadjonov struck from outside the area, forcing Sims to tip the ball over the crossbar.
In the 68th minute, Sims saved a long-range effort from Fayzullaev, turning his shot around the post.
New Zealand worked hard to run down the clock but the officials advised there would be nine agonising minutes of added time.
Three minutes into those, Uzbekistan grabbed their equaliser when Sherzod Esanov scored with a diving header from close range.
New Zealand remained calm as tired legs contained a desperate Uzbekistan in the 25-degree heat.
At last, the whistle went … and New Zealand could look forward to watching the Argentina-Guatemala game later, knowing the point had helped their cause for making the knockout stages.
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New Zealand / Uzbekistan
Possession: 31% / 69%
Shots: 6 / 30
Shots on target: 5 / 6
Passes: 276 / 594
Pass completion: 63% / 80%
Corners: 2 / 11
Game played on Wednesday May 24, 2023 (NZT)
New Zealand 2 (Ben Wallace 23′, Jay Herdman 41′)
Uzbekistan 2 (Abbosbek Fayzullaev 51′, Sherzod Esanov 90+3′)
Argentina 3 (Alejo Véliz 17′, Luka Romero 65′, Máxio Perrone 90+8′)
Kees Sims, Lukas Kelly-Heald, Isaac Hughes, Finn Surman (captain), Everton O’Leary (Jackson Jarvie 46′), Ben Wallace (Oli Fay 83′), Jay Herdman (Jackson Manuel 88′), Fin Conchie, Dan McKay, Norman Garbett (Adam Supyk 63′), Kian Donkers (Oliver Colloty 63′).
Subs not used: Henry Gray, Albert Kelly-Heald, Finn Linder, Noah Karunaratne, Aaryan Raj,
Head coach: Darren Bazeley.
Assistant coaches: Paul Temple, Martin Bullock.
Goalkeeper coach: Glen Moss.
Yellow cards: McKay (18′), O’Leary (24′).
Otabek Boymurodov, Jakhongir Urozov, Abdukodir Khusanov, Diyorbek Ortikboev (captain) (Shakhzodjon Nematjonov 83′), Makhmudion Makhamadjonov (Saidafzalkhon Akhrorov 68′), Bekhruzbek Askarov (Rustam Turdimurodov 68′), Nodirbek Abdurazzokov (Sherzod Esanov 46′), Zafarmurod Abdirakhmatov, Abbosbek Fayzullaev, Pulatkhuja Kholdorkhonov (Shakhzod Akramov 90+1′), Umarali Rakhmonaliev.
Subs not used: Edem Nemanov, Izzatillo Pulatov, Abubakir Ashurov, Asrorbek Kenjayev, Shakhzodbek Rahmatullayev.
Head coach: Ravshan Khaydarov.
Assistant coaches: Davron Mirzaakhmedov, Miraziz Mirzaakhmedov.
Goalkeeper coach: Vyacheslav Tomilin.
Yellow cards: Rakhmonaliev (10′), Fayzullaev (86′).
Referee: Oshane Nation (South Africa).
Assistant referees: Ojay Duhaney (Jamaica), Jassett Kerr-Wilson (Jamaica).
Fourth official: Abdelaziz Bouh (Mauritania)
VAR: Tatiana Guzman (Nicaragua)
Assistant VAR: Willy Delajod (France)
Game to be played on Saturday May 27, 2023 (NZT)
New Zealand v Argentina
Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario, San Juan, 9am
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