Fiji And New Zealand Confirm Their Semi-final Spots On Match Day 2
Just as they did against Tonga, New Zealand struck early against hosts Samoa before going on to win 6-0 and cruise into the semi-finals at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament – Oceania Qualifier in Apia.
Early goals from Jacqueline Hand, Kate Taylor and an own goal silenced the big local crowd and rattled the home side, who were unable to recover.
Trailing 1-0 early, Samoa missed a golden chance to equalise when Xevani Salanoa fired into the side net with New Zealand keeper Anna Leat beaten. That was as close as the home side would come to scoring.
Macey Fraser’s brilliant free-kick in the 34th minute effectively secured the result for New Zealand, who will qualify top of Group B with a game to spare.
Samoa showed plenty of fight in the second half and Torijan Lyne-Lewis has a strong shot drift just over the cross bar 10 minutes in. Kiwi striker Indiah-Paige Riley went down in the box moments later and referee David Yareboinen awarded a penalty. Grace Jale took on responsibility but her shot hit the outside of the post and the chance went begging.
Substitute Ally Green scored her second goal of the tournament with a powerful shot from an acute angle, blasting past Xeyana Salanoa in the Samoan goal at the near post.
Kate Taylor came closest to adding a seventh but her header flashed wide following a corner.
For Samoa it was a big improvement from the only other time the two sides met in 1998 when New Zealand won 21-0. They are still in the semi-final hunt and must beat Tonga in their final group game on Tuesday to qualify for the last four.
New Zealand: 6 ( Jacqueline HAND 8’, Kate TAYLOR 16’, OWN GOAL 23’, Macey FRASER 34’, Ally GREEN 60’, Michaela FOSTER 75)
Fiji have avenged their Pacific Games final loss to Papua New Guinea in Honiara last year with a drama filled 4-3 victory in their Group A encounter in Apia.
The Kulas were dominant from the outset but had to withstand a late second-half fightback from Ericson Komeng’s side.
The win means Fiji are through to next Friday’s semi-final, while Papua New Guinea will need to beat American Samoa by a big margin and hope Fiji account for the Solomon Islands, to edge the Solomons on goal difference and sneak into the last four.
Early strikes from Sofi Diyalowai and Narieta Leba rocked Papua New Guinea who were overrun in midfield and under constant pressure at the back.
Komeng had made a couple of changes to his lineup from the side which drew 1-1 with the Solomon Islands with Christie Maneu and Mavis Singara shoring up the midfield but they were unable to gain control against a physical Fijian side who were crisper and more accurate with their passing and movement.
Marie Kaipu tried to lead from the front as captain for Papua New Guinea and made some dangerous runs, but it was fellow striker Keren Kalapai who got her side back in the game with a lovely finish after rounding the advancing Mereseini Waqali in the Fiji goal.
A couple of minutes before the break Fiji had restored their two-goal cushion when Leba headed in her second from a free-kick.
She had her hat-trick from the penalty spot in the 61st minute, after Diyalowai’s initial penalty attempt was saved by Faith Kasiray in the Papua New Guinea goal. However Kaipu brought down Leba after the rebound and she made no mistake from the spot.
Trailing 4-1, Papua New Guinea looked to be down and out but the Pacific Games champions rallied. First Kalapai scored her second from a shot from an acute angle and two minutes later Calista Maneo fired a superb shot past Waqali from outside the box.
Diyalowai should have made it five for Fiji late on but her shot one-on-one was blocked by Kasiray and Fiji held on for a deserved victory.
Papua New Guinea: 3 (Keren
KALAPAI 39’, 65’, Calista MANEO 67’)
Fiji: 4 (Sofi DIYALOWAI 11’, Narieta LEBA 26’, 43’, 61’ (P))