Dramatic winner keeps Solo hopes alive

A last-minute winner from Emmanuel Poila secured Solomon Islands a 1-0 win over Tahiti in Honiara and a 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ lifeline. Poila sent the jam-packed Lawson Tama Stadium into a frenzy with his 92nd minute winner, enough to peg level Tahiti in Group B after the French Polynesians won by the same scoreline in Papeete on Monday.

A draw would have left the Solomons with a mountain to climb in the abbreviated three-team, four-match group. Solomons spurned several opportunities to open the scoring, most notably Joachim Waoroi’s shot pinged off the crossbar midway through the second half.

“I think the boys kept to our plan and kept on persisting and we could have sealed the win earlier in the match but a win is a win for me, and I really want to thank my boys,” said Solomon Islands coach Moses Toata.

New Zealand will visit New Caledonia on Tuesday in a Group A encounter, with the remainder of OFC third stage matches to be played next year. The two group winners will play-off, while the eventual victor will face the fifth-placed South American nation for a ticket to Russia 2018.