New Zealand kept their World Cup hopes alive with a gritty 0-0 draw against Peru in the first leg of their inter-continental playoff in Wellington.
Despite missing key striker Chris Wood -- still nursing a hamstring injury -- for all but the last 15 minutes on Saturday, the All Whites played with confidence and composure to keep 10th-ranked Peru scoreless.
They almost poached a win with less than five minutes remaining, Ryan Thomas letting fly from outside the box with a scorcher that glanced off the upright.
The world No. 122 Kiwis will travel to Lima for the return fixture on Thursday (AEDT) with a glimmer of hope they can earn a berth at next year's World Cup in Russia.
The All Whites were under pressure almost immediately, a disastrous start averted as keeper Stefan Marinovic back-pedalled to claw away a near own-goal after a miscommunication between skipper Winston Reid and Tommy Smith at the back.
Peru continued to dominate possession and territory, with Watford midfielder Andre Carillo and Los Incas playmaker Christian Cueva looking particularly threatening down the right.
Defending for long stretches, the All Whites managed only the odd foray into the attacking third, although the combination between Marco Rojas and Thomas looked sharp when they did.
Thomas's work down the left created perhaps the best chance for New Zealand 10 minutes out from half-time, but Kosta Barbarouses' strike skewed across goal.
Peru were efficient at the back, centre-backs Christian Ramos and Alberto Rodriguez marshalling a well-organised defence which was threatened only rarely.
Up front, however, they missed top striker and skipper Paolo Guerrero, serving a 30-day suspension after a returning a positive dope test last month.
Traditionally slow starters, Peru created plenty of chances in the first half, but could not find the crucial finish and went into the break on level terms with New Zealand.
The All Whites were under siege almost immediately from the re-start, but dug in to hold out an increasingly frustrated Peru.
Right-back Aldo Corzo came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock, but Marinovic tipped the 63rd-minute header over with a superb reflex save.
From then, it was end to end, both teams hunting a crucial goal, in front of a raucous 37,000-strong sellout crowd.