New Zealand cruised to a 6-1 win over the Solomon Islands in Oceania World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.
Perth Glory striker Shane Smeltz opened the scoring as early as the 12th minute of the match at Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium, slotting home a Leo Bertos corner.
Costa Barbarouses doubled the lead on 25 minutes when he rounded Solomon Island goalkeeper Samson Koti.
The visitors threatened to make a game of it when they pulled a goal back six minutes into the second half through captain Henry Fa’arodo.
Fa’arodo, who plays his club football for New Zealand regional side FC Nelson, reduced the deficit when he connected with Leslie Nate’s delivery.
But it took the hosts just two minutes to restore their two-goal buffer, veteran striker Chris Killen doing the damage.
Tony Lochhead then made it 4-1 on 69 minutes, before two goals in the space of three minutes from Chris Wood and Melbourne Victory man Marco Rojas capped off an emphatic win for the home side.
“Probably in the first 30 minutes it was a bit hard,” New Zealand skipper Ryan Nelsen said.
“We knew they’d throw people at us up top defensively and try to pressure us.
“We had to go back to front pretty quickly and we knew if we got the timing right we’d get in behind them.
“It didn’t work in the first half as we’d like but in the second half we ground them down.”
The win leaves New Zealand top of their four-team group in the third round of Oceania qualifying, with two wins from two matches played.
They are favourites to progress to a playoff against a CONCACAF nation, with a place in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil the ultimate prize on offer.
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