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New Zealand qualify for World Cup

New Zealand's Rory Fallon celebrates scoring what turned out to be the decisive goal in their World Cup play-off with Bahrain.
New Zealand's Rory Fallon celebrates scoring what turned out to be the decisive goal in their World Cup play-off with Bahrain.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rory Fallon scored the only goal of the game to help New Zealand qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1982
  • Bahrain were handed a chance to equalize in the second half but Mark Paston saved Sayed Adnan's weak penalty
  • New Zealand captain Ryan Nelsen paid tribute to the 35,100 fans for their inspirational support at the match in Wellington
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(CNN) -- Rory Fallon scored the only goal of the game to help New Zealand qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1982 as they ran out 1-0 winners in their playoff with Bahrain.

Bahrain had begun the Asia/Oceania playoff knowing a score draw would be enough to see them qualify and they had showed the early attacking intent at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

But New Zealand -- nicknamed the 'All Whites' -- started to gain a foothold in the game and Leo Bertos and Chris Killen both struck the woodwork before Fallon grabbed the crucial breakthrough.

The 27-year-old striker, who plays for English Championship side Plymouth Argyle, scored the decisive goal just before the half-time break when he headed home from a Bertos corner.

Bahrain were handed a chance to level the scores in the 51st minute when Tony Lochhead fouled Abdulla Omar inside the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot.

The crowd was incredible and I don't know if we could have won it without them.
--New Zealand captain Ryan Nelson

But All Whites goalkeeper Mark Paston was equal to Sayed Adnan's weak spot-kick and coach Ricki Herbert's side held on to secure their place at the World Cup for the first time since they qualified for Spain 28 years ago,

New Zealand captain Ryan Nelsen, paid tribute to the 35,100 fans in Wellington - a record for a football match in the country.

"The crowd was incredible and I don't know if we could have won it without them," the Blackburn Rovers defender told reporters after the match.

"They were our 12th man today and they got us home. I've played in some incredible atmospheres but this is right up there."