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Disastrous start costs Kiwis Qatar World Cup qualification

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14th June, 2022
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New Zealand have failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Qatar, losing a controversy-filled intercontinental play-off against Costa Rica 1-0.

Former Arsenal striker Joel Campbell’s third-minute goal was enough to send the Central American nation to a third-straight World Cup as the All Whites twice fell on the wrong side of crucial VAR decisions.

An equaliser by Chris Wood late in the first half was ruled out for a foul in the build-up after referee Mohammed Abdulla consulted his pitch-side monitor.

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The New Zealanders’ sense of frustration only increased in the second half when Abdulla sent off substitute Kosta Barbarouses for a challenge on Francisco Calvo.

The United Arab Emirates official had originally booked Barbarouses for the challenge but changed his decision after once more viewing a replay pitchside.

It’s the third qualifying campaign in a row New Zealand have fallen at the final hurdle after losing play-offs to Mexico and Peru in their past two World Cup cycles.

Danny Hay’s team had a disastrous start at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, with Campbell hitting the back of the net with the first shot of the match.

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The 29-year-old got his foot to a cross from the left before New Zealand’s defence, steering the ball past Oli Sail and into the far corner of the net.

That would be Costa Rica’s only shot of the opening half however as the All Whites pressed hard for a leveller.

Wood twice created opportunities for youngsters Matthew Garbett and Alex Greive but both squandered the chances.

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Newcastle United striker Wood forced Costa Rica captain Keylor Navas into a double-save moments later but it wasn’t until the 39th minute when the big New Zealand forward thought he had scored.

Wood steered a Garbett cross passed Navas after it eluded the Costa Rican defence but Abdullah ruled Garbett had committed a foul winning the ball back before his cross.

Costa Rica made a triple change at half-time, bringing on ex-Fulham midfielder Bryan Ruiz, but New Zealand were still dominating the possession, shots and territory.

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Even after Barbarouses’ 69th-minute dismissal, New Zealand pressed for a goal with Clayton Lewis’s long-range effort in the 76th minute forcing a smart diving save from Navas.

Costa Rica’s qualification completes the full 32-nation line-up for November’s World Cup with Los Ticos to be in Group E alongside European heavyweights Spain and Germany as well as Japan in Qatar.

© AAP

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