Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

Two late second-half goals from Christ Pei gave New Caledonia a hard-fought victory over Vanuatu and confirmed their fifth place finish at the OFC Futsal Nations Cup 2023.

Vanuatu began the match brightly, stroking the ball about with a pace and accuracy that made life difficult for New Caledonia as they looked to play their way into the game.

Jayson Timatua went closest early on but shot into the side-netting when passing would have perhaps been a better option.

Looking to grab an early lead, New Caledonia paid the price for pulling their goalkeeper to add an extra outfield player. Kemly Lehi winning the ball deep in his own half and finding the empty net from range.

A second duly arrived minutes later when Jayson Timatua finished off a crisp passing move by sliding the ball under the despairing grasp of goalkeeper Matthieu Wassin.

Wassin and his side did find their way back in before half-time however. Emmanuel Hmaen with the easiest of tap-ins at the back post after an excellent ball across the face of goal from Christ Pei.

Vanuatu gave themselves a two-goal buffer early in the second period when Sandy Mesau met a kick-in with a thunderous low drive past a thicket of bodies.

One again the game ebbed and flowed, with New Caledonia striking twice soon after to bring themselves level. Jymaël Upa and then Nicolas Foubert found the net as New Caledonia refused to go away.

Two late goals decided the tie and they went the way of New Caledonia.

Christ Pei put his side ahead with an acrobatic overhead kick from close range after a deflection of the goalkeeper before he added another and New Caledonia’s fifth to confirm the result.

Vanuatu: 3 (Kemly LEHI 4′, Jayso TIMATUA 7′, Sandy MESAU 21′)
New Caledonia: 5 (Emmanuel HMAEN 17′, Jymaël UPA 24′, Nicolas FOUBERT 26′, Christ PEI 36′, 38′)

HT: 2-1