Unfortunately for the islanders, Solomon Islands national team was no match for the New Zealand; the All Whites faced no resistance and confirmed their massive favouritism to clinch a berth at FIFA World Cup intercontinental playoff. The New Zealanders will play a single-decisive match against the 4th-placed team from CONCACAF in June, which is Costa Rica, a national team that played the last two editions of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil and Russia.
New Zealand played the best possible team they had and its power was confirmed: Bill Tuiloma scored the first for his nation on the 23th minute thanks to a header, using also his head this time the all-time top goalscorer of New Zealand Chris Wood scored the second for New Zealand.
Already in the second half, Joe Bell took a direct corner into Solomon Islands’ nets – counting on the bad goalkeeping of Phillip Mango. Bill Tuiloma scored his second at the 69th minute and already in the injury time Matthew Garbett scored his first goal for his country – the fifth of the match.
Solomon Islands’ fragile defensive system was exposed – especially at the aerial clashes – giving total advantage for New Zealand that still had a Chris Wood’s disallowed goal after VAR intervetion. The youngster Raphael Lea’i had shown some glimpses of his quality upfront, after dribbling two opponents and having a incredible solo goal denied by the goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic – probably the only dangerous moment Solomon Islands had in the entire match.
New Zealand continues dreaming to represent OFC at the FIFA World Cup – what would be their third ever appearance, while Solomon Islands must be proud of their performances and can see a bright future ahead thanks to the youth of its team and the talent highleted througout the tournament.
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