Solomon Islands 2 - Australia 2

SOLOMON ISLANDS striker Commins Menapi tonight humiliated and shocked Australia with two goals to earn the Melanesian soccer minnow a draw with the Socceroos which cost New Zealand a World Cup qualification play-off berth.

The result means Australia will now face the Solomons, ranked 154th in the world, in a two-legged World Cup play-off in September next year.

The winner of that will play the fifth-ranked South American side for a place at Germany 2006.

Australian coach Frank Farina expressed contempt earlier this week for the notion that the Socceroos could lie down in this match to let the Solomons through and avoid more dangerous play-off against NZ.

While Australia didn't throw the match, Farina did pick a very inexperienced starting line-up tonight.

New Zealanders will see the result as akin to cricket's under-arm bowling incident but the All Whites have only themselves to blame for the situation after losing 4-2 to Vanuatu during the week.

Vanuatu finished last in the six-team tournament.

A limp Australia was outplayed in the first half, with the Solomons having five shots at goal before the Socceroos had their first shot, in the 37th minute.

The Socceroos were made to pay when Menapi dummied around defender Adrian Madaschi in the 44th minute, and smashed in a beautiful left-footed goal to put the Solomons in front.

Farina made three halftime substitutions, putting on Simon Colosimo, Mile Sterjovski, and Ahmad Elrich, at the expense of Max Vieri, David Tarka and Alex Brosque, who had poor first halves.

It made a difference, with Australia scoring through Tim Cahill, his sixth goal in three Socceroos matches, in the 51st minute, and through Brett Emerton with a neat volley in the 53rd, from a chipped Elrich cross, to hit the lead.

But, after looking to be in control, the game changed dramatically when defender Patrick Kisnorbo received his second yellow card for a crude tackle four minutes later, reducing the Socceroos to 10 men.

And Menapi sent his side into raptures in the 75th minute, when he levelled the scores, hitting a firm, low left-footer past a static defence and goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac, to create the Solomons' greatest soccer moment and one of Australia's lowest.

written by AAP