Apia:Yohann Mercier scored in the final minute of stoppage time to give New Caledonia a 3-2 win over a nine-man Solomon Islands side on Wednesday.
The win also propelled them into the final of the Oceania Football Confederation's World Cup qualifying tournament.
With the teams locked at 2-2, and with extra time approaching, Mercier took advantage of an under-manned Solomons defense to slot home the winner with the last strike of the game.
Alick Maemae, in the 68th minute, and Gideon Omikirio, in the 83rd, left the game after receiving two yellow cards, forcing the Solomons to play out the final minutes of the match with only nine players. Their misfortune gave New Caledonia the telling advantage in a tight match.
New Caledonia opened the scoring in the 34th minute when Poulidor Toto squared to Iamel Kabeu in front of goal and Kabeu found enough space to send a powerful drive wide of the Solomons keeper.
The Solomons equalized in the 40th minute when Judd Molea found Henry Fa'arodo from a free kick near the left hand corner and Fa'arodo headed home.
The teams were locked 1-1 at halftime. The Solomons took the lead in the 47th minute when Commins Menapi met Molea's free kick from wide on the right and headed the ball just inside the left-hand upright.
Kabeu and Toto again combined for New Caledonia's equalizer in the 54th minute. Kabeu took the ball to the byeline and squared to Toto who produced a neatly-angled finish.
Fiji was due to meet Vanuatu later on Wednesday in the tournament's second semi-final. The finalists from Friday's gold medal match and the third-place finisher will qualify for the second Oceania round, a four-country tournament with New Zealand.
The winner of that tournament must play an Asian Confederation team in a two-match series, with the winner advancing to the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa.