Football: All Whites thrash Vanuatu

By Niall Anderson

New Zealand's Rory Fallon celebrates. Photo / Phototek
New Zealand's Rory Fallon celebrates. Photo / Phototek

The All Whites have recorded their biggest win in years, with a first-half onslaught downing Vanuatu 5-0 this afternoon.

In a location where most New Zealanders travel for leisure, the All Whites have rarely enjoyed their Island stints as high temperatures, variable pitch conditions and pesky opposition often prove troublesome.

However, with a helping hand from a horrific Vanuatu defence, Anthony Hudson's men were at peace with the elements, recording their most emphatic victory since a 10-0 thrashing of Tahiti in 2004, and equalling the margin from a 6-1 win over the Solomon Islands in 2012.

Vanuatu's first-half defence was as embarrassing as the attendance at the Sir John Guise Stadium, as they were repeatedly torn to shreds by the simplest of attacking endeavours.

The game was frankly over as a contest within minutes, with Chris Wood taking mere seconds to score a brace which signified what was to come.

He received a favourable assist from the Vanuatu defenders - first strolling in unmarked to tap home a long-throw at the back post, before some defensive self-destruction saw a horror back pass free the Leeds United striker for a simple one-on-one finish.

To characterise the gap in class as a gulf would be doing a disservice to the disparity, as Michael McGlinchey made it 3-0 within 10 minutes by curling a free-kick over a defensive wall consisting the entire Vanuatu outfield.

Also evident were the inaccuracies of the FIFA rankings, which have the audacity to claim that Vanuatu (181) are only twenty spots behind the All Whites.

A shoulder injury to Wood denied him the chance of a rapid hat-trick, while Vanuatu also made an early substitute of the unforced variety, with tactical changes required after just 23 minutes.

By then, a fourth goal had gone in, with Rory Fallon benefitting from another defensive mishap. Fallon - not the fleetest of foot - outpaced out-of-position defenders, rounded the keeper and curled a classy left footed finish into the top left corner.

In celebration, Fallon pointed to the sky, but it was Vanuatu needing assistance from above to stop the rout.

Kosta Barbarouses made it five before the half with a classy finish, but Vanuatu received a respite in the second stanza - perhaps of the statistical, rather than spiritual kind.

Only six shots were required from the All Whites to create the five goal first half - an incredibly unsustainable rate of conversion which regressed in a less clinical second half performance.

While the scoreline was deservedly one-sided, there were moments of uncertainty for the inexperienced All Whites defence. Vanuatu had a clear penalty waved away, wasted a slew of free-kicks and often found themselves in pockets of space in favourable territory.

Those pockets turned to acres in the second half, with All Whites keeper Stefan Marinovic forced into several strong saves to keep a clean sheet as Vanuatu ended with more shots and possession - statistics which will be of concern for Hudson.

The All Whites will face a stricter test against the Solomon Islands in the final group game on Saturday, before the semifinals begin.

New Zealand 5 (Chris Wood 2, Rory Fallon, Michael McGlinchey, Kosta Barbarouses)
Vanuatu 0
Halftime: 5-0

- NZ Herald

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