LAUTOKA: New Zealand beat Fiji 2-0 on Lautoka Saturday to take a substantial early advantage in the home and away matches which make up the third stage of FIFA World Cup qualifying in the Oceania region.
Leeds United striker Chris Wood scored from the penalty spot in the 48th minute and Marco Rojas sealed the win with a goal seven minutes later as New Zealand dominated both territory and possession.
New Zealand now needs only a draw from the return match in Wellington on Tuesday to win Group A and progress to the fourth and final stage of Oceania qualifying in September. The winner of that stage advances to an intercontinental playoff in November against the fifth-placed team from South America.
After a scoreless first half in which Rojas had a goal correctly disallowed for offside, Wood gave New Zealand the lead with a penalty after Fiji handled the ball in the box. Rojas then took advantage of a blunder by goalkeeper Beniamino Mateinaqara to make the game safe.