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Draw secures Oceania World Cup berth for New Zealand

Wellington (AFP) – New Zealand wrapped up the Oceania World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday with a 2-2 draw with the Solomon Islands and now face an intercontinental play-off.

If they are to make the World Cup in Russia next year, New Zealand must now win a home-and-away series in November against the fifth-ranked South American side — which is currently the Lionel Messi-led Argentina.

New Zealand beat the Solomon Islands 8-3 on aggregate after claiming the first leg of their Oceania qualifier 6-1 in Auckland last week.

Before the steamy heat took its toll on the players in Honiara, New Zealand were up 2-0 with early goals to Myer Bevan and an own goal by Nelson Sale when a shot by Kosta Barbarouses rebounded off his head and into the net.

Micah Lea’alafa and Henry Fa’arodo replied with penalties for the Solomons. 

With three rounds remaining in the marathon South American qualifiers, where the top four teams automatically qualify, Argentina lie fifth although level on points with fourth-placed Chile.

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