Rest of the World: All Whites on the night after Fallon heads for glory

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The Independent Online

New Zealand v Bahrain

Blinking and stumbling into the pale, liquid sunlight, New Zealand woke with a collective hangover yesterday after the All Whites qualified for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

Tens of thousands thronged the bars, nightclubs and streets of Wellington's entertainment district and partied until dawn after a first-half header from Plymouth Argyle's Rory Fallon gave them a 1-0 victory over Bahrain in the Asia/Oceania qualifying play-off on Saturday.

The victory in front of a sold-out 35,194-strong crowd at the Westpac Stadium, which gave the team a ticket to only their second World Cup appearance, dominated the local news yesterday. Television networks replayed Fallon's goal and the post-match celebrations of Ricki Herbert and his side continually on the main news bulletins. Even the publicly-funded Radio New Zealand led with the story.

The staid All Blacks performance over Italy at San Siro in Milan, hours after the All Whites clinched qualification, was relegated to second fiddle, something almost unheard of in rugby-mad New Zealand. All three national Sunday newspapers led with the All Whites' victory, with the Sunday Star Times front page headline, over a photo of Fallon scoring the goal, reading: "The $10m goal...All Whites World Cup bound."

The sports section was dominated by a huge photo of a jubilant Fallon being mobbed by teams mates with the simple headline: "Header from Heaven."

Former All White Billy Harris paid tribute to the crowd at Wellington's stadium, known affectionately as "The Cake Tin", with the fanatical Wellington Phoenix "Yellow Fever" supporters stripping off their shirts in the 80th minute and waving them continuously until the final whistle. "For a country still learning the ropes of the global game, this was a brilliant effort," Harris wrote in the Sunday Star Times.



Costa Rica v Uruguay

Uruguay coach Oscar Washington Tabarez admitted his side were far from their best even after they came away from the opening leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off against Costa Rica with a 1-0 away win.

A 21st-minute goal from Diego Lugano gave Uruguay the upper-hand going into the second leg on Wednesday in Montevideo. Costa Rica played the last 38 minutes with 10 men after the dismissal of Randall Azofeifa, and Tabarez had expected his team to take advantage.

"This result is very important," he said. "We have passed a very difficult test in a very even game. The 1-0 score is excellent, but we are unhappy with our form. Costa Rica's most dangerous spell was with 10 men and we made a mistake by playing too defensively."

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