Football: New Zealand qualify for Paris Olympics with massive win over Solomon Islands

The Football Ferns have booked their spot at the Paris Olympics, courtesy of a 11-1 win over Solomon Islands to win the Oceania qualifying tournament in Samoa.  

Victory sends the Football Ferns to another Olympic Games – their fifth successive qualification since the 2008 Games in Beijing.   

With 21 goals already scored across their first four matches, the Football Ferns continued their scoring spree against a shell-shocked Solomon Islands.  

Grace Jale's brace saw her finish as the tournament's joint-top scorer with seven, as part of an outstanding attacking display.   

Indiah-Paige Riley, Hannah Wilkinson and Katie Kitching also added braces, as New Zealand's superior firepower told. 

The Football Ferns celebrate.
The Football Ferns celebrate. Photo credit: Photosport

It took just 12 minutes for New Zealand to first find the back of the net, as Jacqui Hand celebrated her 25th birthday with her fourth goal of the tournament.  

Interplay between Riley and Wilkinson on the right wing saw Hand beat goalkeeper Margaret Faka'abu Kofela, and open the floodgates for New Zealand's attackers.  

Wilkinson turned from provider to scorer eight minutes later, combining again with Riley on the right, as her shot clipped the inside of the post on the way in.  

A surging run forward from defence saw Katie Bowen add New Zealand's third, latching on to beat the keeper with an acrobatic first-time finish inside the penalty area after Jale's cross.  

Jale herself scored the fourth, and her sixth of the tournament, as Hand's cross was headed straight at the keeper, only to rebound perfectly for the Football Ferns forward.  

And to make matters worse for the Solomon Islands, Riley added a fifth before the break, curling a left-footed effort from the right wing to all but seal New Zealand's place in Paris.  

The second half didn't bring any respite either.  

Riley had her second not long after the break, as another left-footed, only for the Football Ferns to be left red-faced as their clean sheet was taken away.  

As Victoria Esson looked to play out from the back, the Kiwi goalkeeper was dispossessed, and allowed Jemina David to put the ball into an empty net.  

But at 6-1, the Football Ferns continued to attack.

Wilkinson had her second just a minute after New Zealand conceded, replying instantly as her powerful header left the Solomon Islands' defence with no answers.  

Jale joined Wilkinson with a brace not long after, as a cross to the back post by captain Rebekah Stott – on her 100th international appearance – was turned home.  

The strike took Jale's goal tally for the tournament to seven, level with Papua New Guinea's Marie Kaipu in the race for the golden boot.   

Up 8-1, coach Jitka Klimkova turned to her bench, as substitute Kitching added a brace to take the scoreline into double figures, before fellow substitute Ruby Nathan completed the rout. 

New Zealand 11 (Hand, Wilkinson 2, Bowen, Jale 2, Riley 2, Kitching 2, Nathan)  

Solomon Islands 1 (King)