Ipswich Town defender Tommy Smith reflects on New Zealand’s defeat to Mexico

Ipswich Town defender Tommy Smith

Ipswich Town defender Tommy Smith - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town defender Tommy Smith wore the captain’s armband as New Zealand lost 5-1 against Mexico in the first leg of their World Cup play-off match.

First half goals from Paul Aguilar and Raul Jiminez put the hosts in the driving seat at the Azteca Stadium, before Oribe Peralta added a second double and Rafael Marquez made it five.

Substitute Chris James did pull back a late goal for the Kiwis to give them a slither of hope heading into the return leg in Wellington next Wednesday.

After the game, Smith revealed why it went wrong for the All Whites: “We showed them too much respect and invited a lot of pressure in that first half and even though we held strong for the opening 30 minutes, it’s tough to soak up that pressure for extended periods.

“Conceding goals always changes games and when they scored it really boosted them and they were able to get a lot of 2 v 1s in wide areas and we struggled to deal with that.”

He added: “We’re used to all the travel and although we felt the altitude in the warm-up, we got used to it as the game went on.

“Once we started pressing higher up the pitch we made it harder for them to pick out passes.

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“We will look to press higher and make them make more mistakes.

“There’s still 90 minutes to go, we’ll be positive and anything can happen in football.”