All Whites dominate World Cup qualifier
The All Whites have turned in one of their best performances in recent memory, destroying the Solomon Islands 6-1 in Auckland tonight.
The last time these two sides met, the All Whites needed an injury time strike from Shane Smeltz to secure a shaky 4-3 victory in their ill-fated Ocean Nations Cup campaign in Honiara in June.
It wouldn't be the case at North Harbour Stadium, with New Zealand registering an absolutely dominating performance, tempered only by a solitary second half goal by the visitors.
But despite the goal, by skipper Henry Fa'arodo, the Solomon Islanders simply weren't in the 2014 World Cup qualifying match.
The win puts New Zealand top of their qualifying group, with two victories from two encounters and a seven-goal difference.
The qualfiying pool games continue through until next March.
The All Whites simply outclassed their opponents tonight, with their superior ball control and passing game too much for the Solomon Islands. Shots on goal were in the dozens, as were attacking raids forward.
Winger Leo Bertos had his fingerprints on much of New Zealand's best work, providing the assist for two of the All Whites' goals and he was creative throughout.
Strikers Smeltz, Chris Killen and Kosta Barbarouses were good targets for Bertos, with all three claiming a goal, as did two of the bench, ensuring the All Whites would pour in four second-half goals.
New Zealand's star-studded backline was rarely tested by the Solomon Islands, who looked to be struggling with the cold, wet conditions.
Striker Benjamin Totori , a recent Phoenix signee, looked creative, but was wasteful when away, while the visitors' defensive line looked more like the line-up from a Keystone Cops film.
Ten minutes before the opening whistle, it seemed like the conditions - absolutely driving rain - would ensure the match would be a scrappy one.
Yet the rain let off, and it would be New Zealand who would have the first opportunity to go ahead when Solomon Islands keeper Samson Koti pushed a Barbarouses shot wide in just the first minute.
And while the game struggled to get any real rhythm early, it was New Zealand's midfield that was definitely getting the better of their opposition.
Smeltz would have a header pushed wide by Koti, before making no mistake the second time - knocking home a Bertos corner from just wide of the left upright.
The All Whites continued to push and it would be Barbarouses who would double the scoreline after 25 minutes.
The Panathinaikos youngster claimed an All Whites long ball down the left flank, which Koti made the poor decision to come out and clear.
Barbarouses was able to skip past the Solomon Islands keeper with ease, cooling slotting the ball home as the visitors' defence surged back.
There would be no letting up in front of 7931 fans in Auckland, with Chris Killen handed the next opportunity, off an All Whites through ball.
Killen couldn't quite get on the end of it, and would collide with the Solomon Islands keeper. Though Killen looked to have injured his knee in the move, it would be Kita who fared worst - and he was ultimately removed for replacement keeper Peter Huia in the final minutes of the half.
The hosts began the second stanza at full steam, with Smeltz only denied by the crossbar off a sublime Ryan Nelsen cross, with the evergreen skipper making a strong run down the left flank.
However, it would be the Solomon Islanders who would claim the first goal of the half, completely against the run of play.
Off an All Whites corner, the visitors surged forward, with Fa'arodo, the skipper, coolly finishing a movement with a clean one-touch strike after 50 minutes.
New Zealand heads went down, but for only a matter of seconds really, as Killen put the All Whites further ahead off a Bertos cross.
Replacement keeper Huia, who had a nightmare in goal, would fumble the striker's header into his net.
And it was goal that spurred the All Whites back into life again. The shots would rain in, and it looked only a matter of time before the hosts would nudge another.
It would come from another Huia howler - with defender Tony Lochhead slotting a Killen cross after 69 minutes; the ball passing clean through the keeper's hands.
The goal would be the Lochhead's first goal for the All Whites, after making his debut in 2003.
Ringing in the changes from the bench, the All Whites continued to press, with two replacement strikers notching two more home.
West Brom striker Chris Wood would be first after 80 minutes, before setting up youngster Marco Rojas for his first international goal just three minutes later.
New Zealand 6 (S Smeltz 12', K Barbarouses 25', C Killen 52', T Lochhead 69', C Wood 80', M Rojas 83') 6
Solomon Islands 1 (H Fa'arodo 50') 1