New Zealand have won their fourth OFC U-20 Championship with a convincing 3-1 win over the Solomon Islands to book their place in the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011.
The Junior All Whites entered the championship match as heavy favourites and were already well on their way to the title after the first quarter of an hour at Auckland's North Harbour Stadium. Cory Chettleburgh capitalised within the first five minutes of the match to put New Zealand ahead, but Himson Teleda then levelled Solomon Islands on 23 minutes against the run of play. Despite going into the break even at 1-1, New Zealand - who dominated possession and chances - comfortably clinched the title thanks to two second half goals from Andrew Bevin and Dakota Lucas.
Solomon Islands had upset Vanuatu 3-2 on penalties to reach the final, and were relishing the chance to compete for a place at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. However, New Zealand controlled the ball immediately after the first whistle blew, and Noel Wagapu’s side struggled to find consecutive touches on the ball. With only five minutes gone, Chettleburgh was on the receiving end of a long-pass at the touchline, and having just sprung the offside trap, he dribbled into the box to slot home at the near post past goalkeeper Silas Seda.
While New Zealand continued to create opportunities, Solomon Islands striker Teleda gave his side a glimmer of hope in the first-half when he received a pass from Toata Tigi, darted between two defenders and struck a low drive home to level the score. New Zealand proved to be too much for the ambitious Mamulas, though, and finally found the cutting edge that had been missing in the first half.
On 58 minutes, substitute Bevin made an immediate impact by netting with his first effort on goal. Anthony Hobbs had done well at the near post to flick on with his head and Bevin finished with a superb volley over his shoulder. Victory for the Junior All Whites was then put beyond doubt when Dakota Lucas poached a weak back-pass from Boso intended for Seda and slotted home into an empty net.
The victory sends New Zealand to Colombia, where they will join Cameroon, Portugal and Uruguay in Group B of the FIFA U-20 World Cup.