10 Jun 2017

Sport: Solomons beat PNG, boosting World Cup chances

5:36 pm on 10 June 2017
Solomon Islands celebrate a goal in their 3-2 victory against Papua New Guinea on Friday.

Solomon Islands celebrate a goal in their 3-2 victory against Papua New Guinea on Friday. Photo: Supplied

Solomon Islands produced a dominant display to beat Papua New Guinea 3-2 in Honiara to boost their hopes of reaching the next stage of FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Jerry Donga was denied by the cross bar early but helped inspire the Bonitos opening goal in the 12th minute, beating several defenders up the right flank before his cross found skipper Benjamin Totori on the edge of the six yard box.

The veteran striker's shot was blocked but the clearance fell to Atkin Kaua, who struck the ball low and hard into the back of the net.

Donga and Totori combined again to devastating effect ten minutes before halftime, with Donga dribbling to the goal line before picking out Totori in the box, who made amends for his earlier attempt, giving the hosts a two goal buffer at the break.

PNG responded three minutes into the second half, with captain Michael Foster winning a corner before getting his goot to the delivery to cut the deficit to one.

The game was all square on the hour mark when Raymond Gunemba drew the keeper before passing off to Patrick Aisa, who slotted the ball into the open goal.

Solomon Islands coach Felipe Vega Arango Alonso introduced some fresh legs for the final quarter of the match and it was the substitute James Naka who played a well-timed pass to Micah Lea'alafa, who rounded the keeper to claim what proved to be the winning goal in the 72nd minute.

Solomon Islands are now level with Group B leaders Tahiti on six points but still trail the Francophones on goal difference.

A draw in Tuesday's return leg in Port Moresby would be enough for the Bonitos to advance to the OFC Qualifying Final against Group A winners New Zealand.

Meanwhle the Kapuls need to win their home leg by five or more goals to leapfrog both teams into top spot.