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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Smeltz gives NZ important World Cup win over Tahiti

Smeltz gives NZ important World Cup win over Tahiti

October 13, 2012 17:08 IST

Shane Smeltz moved into outright second as New Zealand's highest scorer as the All Whites completed a comfortable 2-0 victory over Tahiti in their Oceania World Cup qualifying clash in Papeete on Friday.

Smeltz stabbed the ball home in the first half to grab his 23rd international goal and move one ahead of Steve Sumner and five behind record holder Vaughan Coveny.

Defender Ben Sigmund then powered home a header with less than 10 minutes remaining to ensure Ricki Herbert's side remained unbeaten and moved to nine points.

New Caledonia had earlier closed the gap on New Zealand with winger Georges Gopes-Fenepej scoring a hat-trick in their 6-2 demolition of the Solomon Islands in Honiara for their second win of the qualifying tournament.

The All Whites, however, ensured they remained in control of the group as they dominated for much of the match against Tahiti and had several opportunities to seal a larger margin of victory.

Oceania champions Tahiti had only one real chance with Axel Williams' shot cleared off the line by stand in captain Tommy Smith in the 85th minute. They have failed to score a goal in all three of their matches so far.

"I was very pleased. We scored a couple of good goals and should have had some more," Herbert said via telephone from Papeete.

"We played it a little bit differently with shape so that was a good performance."

Herbert had been forced to rejig his defence with regular captain Ryan Nelsen and Winston Reid missing due to injuries they picked up in matches for their English clubs last weekend, while first choice goalkeeper Mark Paston was a late withdrawal with an infected foot.

Nelson and Reid arrived in New Zealand on Friday and are expected to play against Tahiti in Christchurch on Tuesday in the fourth round of matches. New Caledonia play the Solomon Islands in Noumea on the same day.

"They're all good. They'll play," Herbert said when asked about Nelsen and Reid's chances of playing in Christchurch.

But it was too early to tell if Paston would be eligible for selection, Herbert said, as his foot was "pretty painful".

The final stage of qualifying in the Oceania region consists of a single pool of the four teams, all playing each other home and away.

The winner of the pool advances to face the fourth-placed team from the Central and North American and Caribbean confederation (CONCACAF) in a two-legged playoff for a spot in Brazil.

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