New Caledonia have secured top spot in Group C at the OFC U-19 Championships 2022 following a 4-0 victory over Samoa at Stade Pater in Papeete, Tahiti.
As a result of Vanuatu’s absence from the group stage, both sides have advanced into the final eight, but a hat-trick from Willy Read helped New Caledonia claim first place.
Samoa had the excellence of goalkeeper Joel Bartley to thank for keeping the scores level in the early stages, making fine saves to prevent Claude Forest, Read and Yannick Ipunesso from opening the scoring.
Samoa captain Kyah Cahill then saw his powerful header cleared off the line, an effort his dad, Australian legend Tim Cahill, would have been proud of.
There was however nothing Bartley could do to stop New Caledonia’s opener as Paul Jone hit a powerful long-range effort to break the deadlock.
New Caledonia then doubled their lead on the brink of half-time, Read latching onto a long-ball and lifting over the onrushing Bartley.
The Samoa stopper produced a sensational save to deny Read early in the second half but was then caught out as New Caledonia went out of sight.
Bartley misjudged a sweeping attempt with Read beating him to the ball to slide into an empty net.
Samoa, playing in their first main finals fixture at an OFC U-19 Championship since 2007, had chances to score, Tafunai blazing over and Victor Leddy failing to capitalise on a well worked free-kick.
However, Read put the seal on the victory with his hat-trick goal to rubber-stamp a first-place finish in Group C for New Caledonia.
New Caledonia will now face Group A runners-up Solomon Islands in the quarter-finals on Sunday, September 18 at 1.00pm local time. Samoa will keep an eye on today’s Group B fixture between Tahiti and Fiji, with the runners-up from that group their opponents on the same day at 9.30am.
Samoa U-19 0
New Caledonia U-19 4 (Paul JONE 34’, Willy READ 45+2, 66′, 77′)