CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) -New Zealand beat Tahiti 3-0 on Tuesday to stay unbeaten in the third stage of Oceania World Cup qualifying, edging closer to an inter-continental playoff for a place in Brazil in 2014.
Midfielder Michael McGlinchey book-ended the match with goals in the third and 91st minutes - on either side of a Chris Killen goal - to ensure New Zealand retained its unbeaten record after four rounds of the four-team round-robin.
New Zealand beat Tahiti 2-0 in the Tahitian capital, Papeete, on Saturday after earlier wins over the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia.
New Caledonia beat the Solomon Islands 5-0 in Noumea later Tuesday to remain second overall.
Les Cagous rushed to a 4-0 lead by halftime with goals to France-based striker Georges Gope-Fenepej, Roy Kayara, Iamel Kabeu and Cesar Lolohea. Lolohea, who added a second in the 89th.
McGlinchey gave New Zealand an early advantage when he drove a hard, right-foot shot from outside the penalty area wide of the Tahiti goalkeeper after only three minutes.
Despite weight of possession, New Zealand was unable to build on that lead until the 86th when Killen tapped home a second goal from a deflected shot. McGlinchey completed his double in stoppage time, curling a superb volley into the top-right corner of the Tahitian net.
New Zealand was strengthened for the match by the return from injury of its captain, Queens Park Rangers defender Ryan Nelsen who played his 49th international in his hometown.
"The third goal alone was worth the price of admission," Nelsen said. "Tahiti was always in the game until the 86th minute and that's the beauty of the game against these island sides. You can control it and even seem to dominate it but you seldom put them away."
New Zealand's next match is at home to New Caledonia on March 22 and it concludes the tournament away to the Solomon Islands on March 26. Oceania Nations Cup champions Tahiti, who will represent the region at the Confederations Cup in Brazil next year, will play the Solomon Islands on March 22 and New Caledonia on March 26.
The winner of the tournament will play a South American qualifier for a place at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.