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All Whites ease to 2-0 win in Fiji

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/03/2017

Two second-half goals inside 10 minutes have set up the All Whites for a 2-0 win over Fiji in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying tie on Saturday.

Skipper Chris Wood broke the first-half scoreless deadlock at Churchill Park in Lautoka with a penalty after 48 minutes, his 19th goal for New Zealand in 47 internationals.

Striker Marco Rojas then pounced on a keeper error seven minutes later to add a second, his fourth for the All Whites in his last five matches.

The win gives world No.112 New Zealand an invaluable three points going into return fixture in Wellington against 181st-ranked Fiji.

Coach Anthony Hudson said the win sets up his team nicely for Tuesday's match.

"I was really happy that we kept a clean sheet and this was a professional performance," he said.

"We're top of the group and we are looking forward to taking this result back home now and finishing the job off.

"The objective was to come here, win and keep a clean sheet, and we are pleased that we have managed to do that."

Neither team really dominated the opening exchanges, the New Zealanders keeping a particularly close eye on Fijian captain and Wellington Phoenix striker Roy Krishna.

But as the game wore on, and the All Whites started to exert some midfield control, the chances began to emerge.

Clayton Lewis forced a superb reflex save from Fijian keeper Beniamino Mateinaqara, his stinging long-range left-foot strike just tipped clear after 10 minutes.

Fiji's chances were limited to the occasional foray on the counterattack, Krishna featuring in their best effort as half-time neared.

He slid through a perfect pass for Dave Radrigai to collect on the edge of the box only for New Zealand defender Themi Tzimolpoulos to nullify the danger with a well-timed tackle.

Rojas showed plenty of place down the left, and broke clear to score in the 32nd minute only to flagged down for offside.

The All Whites didn't want for possession, but couldn't find the crucial finish and went into half time on even terms at 0-0.

Wood released some of the pressure just two minutes after the restart with a well-taken penalty after Peniame Drova was pinged for hand ball.

New Zealand's constant pressure paid dividends after 56 minutes, Rojas swooping in to slot home after Mateinaqara inexplicably dallied too long on a back pass.

From then on, the All Whites limited Fiji to half-chances, comfortably controlling possession to wrap up the win.

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