Solomon Islands close in on World Cup playoff

Solomon Islands moved a step closer to a World Cup regional playoff against New Zealand after beating Papua New Guinea 3-2 on Friday.

Micah Lea'Alafa's 74th-minute winner clinched a dramatic Oceania Group B win in Honiara that leaves Solomon Islands needing only to avoid defeat against the same opponents on Tuesday, to secure a clash against the Kiwis.

The winners from the Oceania playoff, for which New Zealand qualified with comfort from Group A, will take on a South American side for a place in the 2018 finals in Russia.

The clincher from Lea'Alafa came after Solomon Islands saw an early two-goal lead drip away, with their efforts from Atkin Kaua and Benjamin Totori countered by replies from Michael Foster and Patrick Aisa.

Tahiti, who have finished their group campaign, head the table but were joined on six points by Solomon Islands. Should Papua New Guinea win the return game on Tuesday and deny Solomon Islands a playoff place, they would need to prevail by a five-goal margin to displace Tahiti at the top.