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Rojas scores twice in All Whites' 2-0 win

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 12/11/2016 Robert Lowe

Marco Rojas's purple patch in front of goal has continued as New Zealand overcame New Caledonia 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier in a windy Auckland.

The live-wire attacking midfielder struck in each half on Saturday to give the All Whites a solid start to the third phase of Oceania qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

Rojas has scored four times for the Melbourne Victory after returning from three difficult seasons in Europe.

The 25-year-old also found the net for New Zealand in their 2-1 loss to Mexico in a friendly in Nashville in October.

"It's always nice to score and it's always nice to be on a run like I am with club and country," he said.

"Hopefully it continues for a little while longer. I'll just keep working hard to get in those position to make sure I'm there to score."

His first goal at QBE Stadium came in the 42nd minute.

It helped to settle the All Whites after skipper Chris Wood, who produced a strong performance up front, and Kosta Barbarouses had both hit the woodwork.

After a scramble, the ball bobbled back into Rojas's path and he produced a shot that keeper Thomas Schmidt blocked but couldn't keep out.

In a match played with a strong wind sweeping down the ground, Rojas effectively sealed the result in the 73rd minute.

Substitute Monty Patterson knocked the ball into the box from the right, Wood managed to back heel it and Rojas was on hand to tap in.

New Zealand finished the stronger and created several more openings, but couldn't capitalise.

It was the All Whites' first appearance at home since coach Anthony Hudson took charge more than two years ago and Rojas said that might have contributed to an "edgy" opening spell.

"Whether the occasion got to us - we need to take a look at that on the video and during the next couple days to work out what happened," he said.

"The goal settled us down and I thought we played some good football in the second half."

New Caledonia produced some sharp passing and had their moments, with their French-based pair of Cesar Zeoula and Georges Gope-Fenepej prominent.

The visitors' enterprise was shown by the number of corners they forced.

They came close to an equaliser early in the second half, when Zeoula headed just over, and he had another attempt blocked later on.

The two teams meet again in Kone on Tuesday and coach Thierry Sardo was quietly confident about what home advantage might bring.

He said Les Cagous had shown in defeat they could come away with a result.

Also in the same pool is Fiji, whom New Zealand play home and away in March.

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