NZ wins Oceania with possible qualifying clash against Argentina

New Zealand have won the Oceania qualifying series for the 2018 World Cup after a 2-2 draw with the Solomon Islands on Tuesday to complete an 8-3 aggregate victory in the home and away series.

After being outclassed 6-1 in the first leg in Auckland last week, the Solomon Islands produced a performance of immense character to rally from 2-0 down for only their second draw in 12 matches against New Zealand.

A goal to Myer Bevan and an own goal gave New Zealand a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes but the Solomons struck back with penalties to Micah Lea’alafa and Henry Fa’arodo.

New Zealand, who are bidding to qualify for the World Cup for the third time, now face the fifth-placed team in South America – currently two-time world champions Argentina – in a two-legged playoff in November.

While New Zealand will be disappointed to have drawn Tuesday’s match, they had to contend with the absence of several leading players – making five changes from the combination which played in Auckland.

They also struggled in intense heat at the Lawson Tama Stadium…