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Jun 4, 2012

All Whites advance to OFC semis

New Zealand progressed to the semi-finals of the OFC Nations Cup after recording their second successive group stage win, a narrow 2-1 victory over Papua New Guinea.

The four semi-finalists at the OFC Nations Cup advance to the final round of World Cup qualifying in the region, for a place in the Oceania-CONCACAF play-off and a potential spot at the 2014 showpiece in Brazil.

The All Whites beat Fiji in their opening game and added another three points after holding off their spirited hosts. Ricki Herbert's side were overwhelming favourites going into the match and it was no surprise when Shane Smeltz gave them the lead after just two minutes, heading home Jeremy Brockie's cross.

Smeltz turned provider for strike partner Chris Wood in the second-half, but New Zealand were made to sweat in the final moments of the game following an 89th-minute penalty from Papua New Guinea substitute Neil Hans.

The result leaves New Zealand top of Group B and facing a likely last-four clash with New Caledonia, while the Solomon Islands are on the brink of finishing as group runners-up to the All Whites, after securing a goalless draw with Fiji 1-0.

Henry Fa'arodo had a goal disallowed for offside for the Solomon Islands but the draw still puts them in a decent position going into their final game against New Zealand, in which a draw will see them progress.

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