All Whites 6 Solomon Islands 1

Football fans - start planning for a capital invasion in November.

The All Whites are all but through to the final stage of their World Cup qualifying journey, after an impressive 6-1 win over the Solomon Islands last night.

Indeed, a few words from the opposition coach summed up the prevailing sentiment around QBE Stadium ahead of the return leg in Honiara on Tuesday afternoon.


"It's pretty obvious," said Solomon Islands coach Felipe Vega-Arango. "I shouldn't say this but this is kind of over. We are not going to beat New Zealand 5-0."

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson disagreed, saying that "the job is not done", but last night was almost the perfect scenario for New Zealand Football - an emphatic result, a decent crowd and some sparkling football on a pleasant winter's night.

And to top it off, a superb Chris Wood hat-trick, only the second for the All Whites since 2004.

The scoreline could have been even higher based on the amount of chances created, and Hudson was disappointed with the penalty conceded in the second half.

But overall it was an assured performance, with Wood the central figure.

The Burnley striker was a class above, showing the local crowd why his English Premier League side paid a club record £15 million ($26 million) for his services.

He capped a virtuoso display with a 25m free kick in the 93rd minute, after going close with several other second-half chances.

"There are always going to be chances, it doesn't matter how late on," said Wood. "My job is to score goals and it is always nice to do that."

The result means the All Whites have all but progressed. Honiara will be an extremely different proposition, with a hostile crowd and unforgiving temperatures, but this New Zealand side have the wherewithal to complete the job.

Once they do, they will play the fifth-placed South American team in November in a two-legged playoff for the final ticket to Russia, with the first leg in Wellington.

Argentina currently occupy that spot - after a 0-0 draw in Uruguay yesterday - but any one of seven teams could travel to Wellington, as only five points separate Colombia in second (25 points) from Ecuador in eighth (20 points).

Hudson wouldn't accept any talk of the tie being a foregone conclusion - "I don't even want to think that way, even out of respect for them" - but it's likely there will be a different look to the All Whites team on Tuesday.

Michael Boxall and Michael McGlinchey are set to be rested after picking up yellow cards, and others such as Wood and Ryan Thomas may play reduced minutes.

After all the hype, it was almost inevitable that Wood would open the scoring, and the 25-year-old's clinical left-foot shot in the 18th minute settled some nerves. The second goal was even better, with his sublime chipped finish reminiscent of Eric Cantona in his pomp.

But Wood isn't just flash, he works hard, tracking back to win the ball near his own penalty area at one point, and invariably finds the right pass.

Thomas was also impressive, having a hand in the first three goals, and dispatching the fourth with precision.

But despite the goals, the All Whites were profligate in the first half, and they could have been out of sight at halftime.

Those misses looked costly after Henry Fa'arodo's spot kick in the 53rd minute, which came from a mistimed challenge from Deklan Wynne on Benjamin Totori, but Thomas found the net two minutes later to settle any brief angst among the 10,230 crowd.

McGlinchey's delightful free kick from the edge of the area in the 80th minute rewarded a busy performance, before Wood's coup de grace.

New Zealand 6 (C. Wood 3, K. Barbarouses, R. Thomas, M. McGlinchey).
Solomon Islands 1 (H. Fa'arodo pen).
Halftime: 3-0.

New Zealand 6 (C Wood 3, K Barbarouses, R Thomas, M McGlinchey)
Solomon Islands 1 (H Fa'arodo (pen))
Halftime: 3-0