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OFC World Cup qualifying wrap: New Zealand held, PNG poach point

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 6 Jun 2012

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The Solomon Islands came from behind to clinch a hard-fought 1-1 draw against New Zealand in OFC World Cup qualifying on Wednesday.

West Bromwich Albion striker Chris Wood opened the scoring for New Zealand in stifling Honiara heat before Benjamin Totori drew level for the hosts in the 57th minute.

The match served as a dead rubber in Group B after Papua New Guinea and Fiji played out a 1-1 draw earlier in the day.

That result guaranteed both New Zealand and the Solomon Islands a berth in the next round of OFC World Cup qualifying as well as a place in the final four at the OFC Nations Cup.

With that in mind, New Zealand head coach Ricki Herbert rested a number of regular starters including Ivan Vicelich, Chris Killen, Shane Smeltz and Michael McGlinchey.

Wood controlled a Leo Bertos pass before firing a powerful volley past Solomon Islands goalkeeper Felix Ray to grab the lead on 14 minutes.

The Solomon Islands however remained undeterred and were rewarded when Totori struck his second goal of the tournament at Lawson Tama Stadium.

Papua New Guinea salvaged their first point under new head coach Frank Farina with a late leveller against Fiji.

Maciu Dunadamu scored for Fiji in the 14th minute before Papua New Guinea forward Kema Jack equalised with five minutes remaining.

New Zealand topped Group B standings with seven points from three pool games, followed by Solomon Islands on five points, Fiji on two and Papua New Guinea on one.

The All Whites, who represented Oceania at the 2010 World Cup, will face New Caledonia in the Oceania Nations Cup semi-finals, while the Solomon Islands will meet Tahiti.

Those four teams will compete in the third round of OFC World Cup qualifying, beginning in September.

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