New Zealand outlast Fiji to edge towards play-off

New Zealand have one hand on a berth in Oceania’s play-off final following a 2-0 away win over Fiji in Lautoka on Saturday.

Goals in quick succession soon after half-time from Chris Wood and Marco Rojas were enough for the All Whites to prevail in energy-sapping humidity at Churchill Park.

The teams met during last year’s OFC Nations Cup, with New Zealand earning a 3-1 group-stage victory.

There were half-chances for either side in the first half with Rojas putting the ball in the net only for his effort to be ruled out for offside.

New Zealand broke the deadlock three minutes after the interval as Wood – standing in as captain in the absence of Winston Reid – converted from the penalty spot following a handball.

Rojas doubled the lead within seven minutes with the livewire forward dispossessing goalkeeper Beniamino Mateinaqara to convert.

New Zealand assumed further control as the match wore on and a Wood header which cannoned off the post was the closest either side came to another goal during the second period.

“The objective was to come here and win and to keep a clean sheet and we are pleased that we have managed to do that,” said New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson.

“Fiji is a tough place to come, they are a difficult team to play.”

The same two sides will meet again on Tuesday in Wellington, where a single point will be enough for New Zealand to lock up top spot in the group.

New Zealand now boast two wins and a draw from their three matches, with New Caledonia on one point, and Fiji yet to get off the mark following their lone outing.