• New Zealand win 6-1 in OFC play-off first leg
  • Captain and star striker Chris Wood hits a hat-trick
  • Return leg will take place in Honiara on 5 September

New Zealand have taken a huge step towards qualifying for an intercontinental FIFA World Cup™ play-off with a resounding 6-1 win over Solomon Islands.

The victory, in which All Whites captain Chris Wood scored a hat-trick, leaves the Solomons with a seemingly impossible task ahead of the second leg of this OFC play-off on Tuesday. The winner of the tie will go on to meet the fifth-placed team in the South American zone for a place at Russia 2018.

New Zealand had eked out a narrow 1-0 win when these sides met on World Cup qualifying duty last year but today’s encounter was one-sided throughout, with Anthony Hudson’s side a class apart.

Wood led the charge with a first-half brace to put the Kiwis in command, and Kosta Barbarouses made it 3-0 at half-time with a fine run and powerful shot.

Only Phillip Mango in the Solomons goal had prevented New Zealand opening up a wider advantage at this stage but the visitors briefly glimpsed some hope when Henry Fa’arodo pulled one back from the spot after a foul on Benji Totori.

That, though, was the signal for New Zealand to move up another gear and they immediately hit back through Ryan Thomas.

A fine win was then rounded off by a pair of superb late free-kicks, the first from Michael McGlinchey and the second from hat-trick hero Wood.