The All Whites have been beaten 2-1 by Japan in wet conditions in their international football friendly in Nagoya.
Japan, ranked 40th in the world and who recently qualified for their sixth successive FIFA World Cup, showed their quality throughout the victory, but needed until the 87th minute to seal the win.
The Samurai Blue went ahead shortly after half-time when New Zealand centre-half Andrew Durante was ruled by referee Man Kowk Liu to have handled the ball. Yuya Osako buried the penalty in the back of the net.
Anthony Hudson's side rallied and scored eight minutes later when midfielder Marco Rojas set up striker Chris Wood with a beautiful ball which he headed home from close range.
However the home team finished the stronger of the two sides and got the late winner when substitute Shu Kurata was on hand to dive and hit a low header in the 87th minute.
It was a cruel loss for the All Whites in their final game before the Intercontinental Playoff to qualify for next year's World Cup in Russia, as they held their own with the world class opposition for long periods and deserved more from the game.
"My initial feeling is of huge disappointment," said Hudson at the post-match press conference. "We did so well and showed so much character and fight to get back into the game at a very difficult place. We are disappointed because we were so close to getting a huge result away from home. At the same time, I am incredibly proud of the players because we said at the beginning if this was a two-legged affair, home and away, we are still very much in the tie."
It was a memorable night for Michael McGlinchey who became the 16th New Zealander to play 50 A Internationals for the All Whites.