The much-anticipated clash, on Day 2 of Men’s Hockey World League Round 1 in Suva, between favourites Fiji and giant killers Vanuatu lived up to its expectations.
The match went into penalty shootout after the teams were locked 4 - 4 at the end of full time.
Both sides came unbeaten into this match which was played under scorching sunshine. Their last encounter being the Pacific Games Final in Port Moresby last year where Fiji came out victors.
Fiji's Amenatave Veitamani opened the scoring in just the first minute in a fast paced physical encounter.
The Vanuatu side undaunted by the reputation of the Fijians hit back in the fourth minute to equalise through Peter Harry. Fijian captain Hector Smith Junior extended the homeside's lead in the 8th minute for the scores to read Fiji 2, Vanuatu 1 at the breather.
Vanuatu scored two quick goals when play resumed in the second half to lead 3-2. The match seesawed with Fiji leveling at 3 all and then Vanuatu through Ben Sam extended it to 4-3, five minutes from fulltime.Fiji's Kristofer Mock leveled proceedings two minutes from fulltime before he was yellow carded.
In the shootout both sides chose three players and both missed a shot each, meaning they were still level at 2-2. In sudden death play, Fiji scored and the Fijian keeper blocked Vanuatu’s attempt.
Fiji's top-goal scorer Leevan Dutta who scored 15 on Day 1 was off target.
Vanuatu's Development officer Wes Stewart expects another tough encounter when the sides clash again in the coming days.
Meanwhile in the Women’s event the Fijian women remain unbeaten after thumping Tonga 19-0 and Solomon Islands 9-1.Newcomers Solomons contained Fiji in the first half to only 3-1.
Fijian captain Tiara Dutta led from the front scoring 9 against Tonga and 2 against Solomons.
For detailed match results