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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

World Cup qualifying: Fiji and Solomon Islands through, New Zealand win

Fiji and Solomon Islands booked their places in the third round of Oceania World Cup qualifying -- but only on goal difference ahead of Vanuatu.

Fiji met Vanuatu knowing they only had to avoid defeat by three goals to secure their place, but also in the knowledge they would likely need at least a point to advance to the semifinals of the OFC Nations Cup.

The second round of qualifying in the Oceania region doubles as the OFC Nations Cup, taking place in Papua New Guinea, with the winners going on to take part in next summer's Confederations Cup in Russia.

The top two in the group stage go through to the knockout rounds of the OFC Nations Cup, with the top three going through to the third round of World Cup qualifying.

Vanuatu were two up before half-time, as Dominique Fred and Fenedy Masauvakalo found the back of the net.

Fiji came back strongly as Samuela Kautoga reduced the arrears six minutes after the break, then Roy Krishna levelled the scores in the 69th minute.

But Vanuatu were not going to be denied as Fred was brought down by goalkeeper Benaminio Mateinaqara in the box and Brian Kaltak netted a 75th-minute penalty to earn a 3-2 victory.

The result left Fiji and Vanuatu tied at the bottom of the table on three points, but Fiji's superior goal difference saw them through.

The final positions of qualifying for both the World Cup and the OFC Nations Cup therefore would be decided by the result of New Zealand vs. Solomon Islands.

Solomon Islands went into the game on the same points as Fiji and Vanuatu, but with a better goal difference of two and four respectively. That meant they could afford to lose by only one goal to advance in the OFC Nations Cup, and by three goals to go through in the World Cup.

New Zealand, who had all but booked their passage in the OFC Nations Cup with a 5-0 win over Vanuatu in the previous game, rested many of their first-choice players, including top scorer and striker Chris Wood.

Luke Adams scored the only goal of the game for New Zealand, earning the All Whites a 1-0 win, in the 80th minute.

That scoreline was enough to send New Zealand through as group winners, with Solomon Islands in second. Fiji finish third to go through in World Cup qualifying, while Vanuatu paid the price for that heavy defeat to New Zealand and are eliminated.

New Zealand will play the runners-up of Group A in the semifinals of the OFC Cup, and Solomon Islands the winners, with both games to be played on Wednesday.

The third round of World Cup qualifying will start next March and will feature two three-team groups. The winner of each group meets to decide who goes through to the inter-confederation playoff against the nation that finishes fifth in the South American region.

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