New Zealand are the last team standing in Oceania’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying campaign after a 2-2 draw secured a comfortable 8-3 aggregate victory over Solomon Islands in Honiara on Tuesday.
The All Whites’ win in the OFC decider means they have now booked a ticket into the intercontinental play-off against South America’s fifth-ranked nation.
It is the third time in succession that New Zealand will feature in the play-off having defeated Bahrain to reach South Africa 2010, before losing against Mexico four years ago.
Though missing numerous first-choice players, New Zealand raced to a 2-0 lead in extreme humidity in the Solomons’ capital thanks to Myer Bevan’s first international goal and an own goal.
However, the home side pulled a goal back from the penalty spot through star attacker Micah Lea’Alafa before the half-hour mark.
Henry Fa’Arodo reprised the feat with 12 minutes remaining, but despite a dominant second-half showing, Solomon Islands could not find a winner for what would have been their first World Cup win against New Zealand in eight attempts.