Australia Through To Nations Cup Play-off

Australia has confirmed its place in the Oceania Nations Cup Final Play-off later this year, with a comfortable 3-0 win over Vanuatu at Hindmarsh Stadium.

The Socceroos have stumbled their way to an ugly, yet convincing 3-0 win over Vanuatu in the final match of round four at the OFC Nations Cup in Adelaide tonight.

Vanuatu had goalkeeper and captain David Chilia to thank for keeping their side in a match that they never really looked like salvaging anything from, despite a courageous defensive performance that continually frustrated a weary looking Australian side.

Osasuna striker John Aloisi (pictured with ball) scored the only goal of the first half, his first of the tournament, before adding a second late in the match as the Australians overwhelming pressure began to take toll.

Brett Emerton was the Socceroos other scorer in a match that has sealed Australia-s position in the next stage of qualifiers, as well as quashed the World Cup ambitions of their opponents.

Credit must go to the Vanuatuans for another honorable performance following on from their shock 4-2 win over New Zealand on Wednesday night.

Farina-s men started the match with a bang, with Emerton, Aloisi, David Zdrilic and Josip Skoko stretching the Vanuatuan custodian to the absolute limit in the opening minutes.

Aloisi finally broke through the resilient Vanuatuan last line in the 25th minute when he headed home the rebound to Tony Vidmar-s effort.

Vidmar struck a sweet right-footed half volley from a Stan Lazaridis corner straight at Chilia, who parried his save into the path of Aloisi who obliged with a neat header to net the match opener.

Right until the closing minutes, the Socceroos were unable to find a way past the charismatic Chilia, who well and truly redeemed himself from Monday-s blunder against Fiji with tonight-s amazing performance.

Chilia-s wall finally cracked in the 81st minute when Emerton netted his first of the tournament. Emerton-s slotted effort drew a Bronx cheer from the 4015 fans on hand, due to the monumental expenditure the Aussies had exhausted on piercing Chilia-s fortress.

Aloisi doubled his tally minutes later after a neat through ball from his fellow goal scorer left Osasuna-s top marksman with little else to do but place his shot to Chilia-s left.

Despite the less than flattering score line, Farina felt his charges gave a good account of themselves.

“We were never in danger and, again, we created so many chances,” said Farina at the post match press conference.

“We were trying to score, it-s as simple as that, we just couldn-t get it past the ‘keeper.

“Obviously, their ‘keeper would be man of the match.

Farina, in his 50th match in charge of the Socceroos, was left to ponder another night of below par finishing, but, ultimately, another win for his team.

“That game was probably the most dominant game we-ve played,” said Farina.

“I-m not going to say the easiest one, but, the boys could-ve played for another hour if they wanted.

“I thought we were always comfortable, we just couldn-t get the second goal.

The Socceroos round out their 2004 OFC Nations Cup campaign on Sunday when they take on high flyers the Solomon Islands at Hindmarsh Stadium in what is shaping to be the most crucial match in the history of the tiny island nation.

Australia: 18. Zeljko Kalac (gk), 2. Jade North, 5. Tony Vidmar, 7. Brett Emerton, 8. Josip Skoko, 9. John Aloisi, 11. Stan Lazaridis, 12. Alex Brosque (21. Ahmad Elrich 65-), 13. Vince Grella, 16. David Tarka, 17. David Zdrilic (15. Mile Sterjovski 65-)

Goals: Aloisi 25-, 84-, Emerton 81-

Vanuatu: 1. David Chilia (gk), 4. Lexa Bibi, 6. Graham Demas, 7. Fedy Vava, 9. Seimata Chilia, 11. Moise Poida (14. Pita Maki 43-), 12. Lorry Thompsen, 16. Alphonse Qorig (10. Etienne Mermer 74-), 17. Jean Maleb (13. Richard Iwai 61-), 19. Roger Joe, 21. Tom Manses

Bookings: Maleb 37-, Thompsen 65-, Vava 83-

Referee: Charles Ariiotima (Tahiti)