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All Whites comfortable winners over Vanuatu

The All Whites have beaten Vanuatu 4-0 in their OFC Nations Cup match in Port Vila
All Whites defender Tim Payne faces Michael Coulon from Vanuatu in the OFC Nations Cup match in Port Vila PHOTO: PHOTOTEK/OCEANIA FOOTBALL CONFEDERATION

New Zealand have finished top of Group A at the OFC Men's Nations Cup after defeating a spirited Vanuatu team 4-0 in front of an enthusiastic home crowd in Port Vila.

Vanuatu had only beaten New Zealand once in nine previous encounters - a legendary 4-2 victory during the 2004 OFC Men's Nations Cup.

But history was against the home side who officially sold around 5,000 tickets but the realistic estimate was around 10,000.


Both teams had already qualified for the semi-finals from, so New Zealand coach Darren Bazeley used the second match to rotate goalkeeper Alex Poulsen for Max Crocombe and striker Ben Waine for Max Mata, while Sam Sutton made way for captain Liberato Cacace who was suspended for the first match.

The hosts immediately got the massive crowd on their feet when Alex Saniel unleashed a stinging drive, which Crocombe could only parry away for a corner.

The All Whites then silenced the passionate crowd with an opening goal just shy of the ten-minute mark, when Elijah Just delivered a pinpoint cross to the far post for Mata to head home his first senior goal for his country.

Mata continued to threaten the Vanuatu goal and managed to get the ball in the net in the 26th minute, assisted by an unfortunate deflection off captain Brian Kaltak, after some clever build-up work by Just and Ben Old.

Mata and Kosta Barbarouses both thought they had scored a third, but were denied by the crossbar and offside flag, respectively.

Vanuatu came out firing in the second half but couldn't convert chances as the third New Zealand goal, came from a long-range effort by Just, ended the hopes of the home team after 63 minutes.

Player Of The Match Just then turned provider for Old, who smashed home his first international goal.

The All Whites will play either Fiji, Tahiti or PNG in their semifinal.


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