Smith plays the game of his life against Italians

IPSWICH Town’s Tommy Smith picked himself up from the depths of despair to help pull off one of the biggest shocks in the 2010 World Cup so far as New Zealand held reigning champions Italy to a 1-1 draw

The 20-year-old central defender played the game of his life alongside Blackburn Rovers’ Ryan Nelsen, to keep one of the most potent forces in world football at bay for more than 70 minutes.

Smith, who spent much of last season on loan at Brentford, could have easily crumbled after he conceded a soft penalty in the 28th minute. He was adjudged to have fouled Daniele Di Rossi after the Italian midfielder went down following the slightest of shirt pulls by the Portman Road youngster.

Smith, who was yellow carded for the foul, could only watch as Vincenzo Iaquinta slotted home the spot kick to level former Halifax striker Shane Smeltz’s shock early goal for the All Whites at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

From then on it was a case of backs to the wall as New Zealand, ranked 78th in the world, had to withstand non-stop pressure from the Italians.

Full report in Monday’s papers

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