Vila Times

New Zealand fails to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia

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Peru have ended New Zealand’s hopes of qualifying for FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 with a 2-0 win in Lima in the second leg of an Intercontinental Play-off securing the 32nd and final berth at the finals.

Jefferson Farfan blasted the home side into a 27th minute lead benefiting from Christian Cuerva’s defence-stretching run down the left-hand flank and Christian Ramos scored from close range midst a sea of bodies in the 65th minute to end a 35 year qualification drought for the South Americans, OFC reports.

Following 0-0 draw in Wellington, both sides made changes to their line ups although striker Chris Wood was once again on the bench for New Zealand and defender Tommy Smith (injury) and Marco Rojas (tactical) joining him on the sideline.

The All Whites withstood an early onslaught before getting a foothold in the match but had a strong claim for a penalty in the opening seconds when Kosta Barbarouses appeared to be dragged back in the Peruvian penalty area.

Peru fullback Luis Advíncula added an attacking spark to the home side and only the left-hand stanchion of Stefan Marinovic’ goal prevented him from opening the scoring when he cut inside from the right and hammered a sweetly-timed shot towards goal.

New Zealand also survived a strong penalty claim when a cross deflected onto the hand of captain Winston Reid two minutes before Farfan’s strike and the skipper also had a good chance to equalise late in the half but headed a Clayton Lewis corner just over the bar.

Enduring a busy night in the New Zealand goal, Marinovic produced a sharp double save four minutes before half-time, first blocking a dipping long-range Miguel Trauco shot then thrusting out a high left hand to bring down Farfan’s rebound while still on the ground.

The introduction of Wood at halftime once again changed the focal point and effectiveness of New Zealand’s attack and the Burnley forward forced a very sharp save from Pedro Gallese five minutes into the second spell although the whistle had blown for a foul.

Marinovic was alert enough to palm away a corner that deflected off Reid just after the hour mark but despite earning a greater share of the play after the half-time break than they had before it, it was Peru who pounced first with a corner falling kindly for Ramos.

Set-pieces looked a possible avenue for New Zealand joy, but Peru’s defence did just enough to largely prevent meaningful contact from the New Zealand targets in the box.

Hudson threw on attacking options Rojas then Jeremy Brockie, for his 50th international cap, as New Zealand chased the game with Chris Wood’s injury time one-on-one chance the most promising for the travelling side.

However, other opportunities to reduce the deficit were limited as the 10th ranked South American nation managed their way through the final stages to book their first World Cup qualification since 1982.