A new-look New Zealand side beat the Solomon Islands 2-0 on Tuesday to complete their Oceania group World Cup qualifying campaign unbeaten.
Blackburn Rovers utility man Tim Payne netted both goals, in the opening and closing stages of the match, to give the All Whites six wins from six matches. Manager Ricki Herbert fielded a different starting side from that which beat New Caledonia 2-1 on Friday.
That win confirmed New Zealand's spot in the next FIFA World Cup™ qualifying round in November against the fourth-placed Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) side for a place in Brazil.
Among the players making their debut against the Solomons were Australia-born, naturalised New Zealander Andrew Durante. Herbert said he was impressed with the way all of his new players handled their assignment against a team his first-choice side had beaten at home 6-1 last September.
"It was a professional performance and I thought the new players slipped into the system really well, they all did their jobs and it was quite comfortable in the end," he said. "We tried to stress to the players that there are opportunities to impress before the big games in November."
Payne scored in the third minute, rifling home from 25 metres and again two minutes from fulltime when he tapped home a Kosta Barbarouses rebound. The only member of the New Zealand team under suspension threat, left back Ian Hogg, picked up a second caution in the 12th minute and will now miss the intercontinental playoff.