Oceania Football Confederation > News > OFC Champions League 2014 > Auckland take comfortable advantage

Auckland take comfortable advantage

The match started in relatively even fashion as the visitors got used to the New Zealand pitch, while Auckland City seemed content to get to know their Tahitian opponent. The ball was sent up-and-down the pitch with Auckland City getting the better of the early chances.
Making his 50th OFC Champions League appearance, James Pritchett was no doubt hoping to make a considerable mark on this match. Unfortunately for the defender, injury came early and he was forced off the field just ten minutes in, to be replaced by Darren White.
Following Pritchett’s departure Ryan de Vries had a good chance to give the home side the lead as Pirae’s keeper Jonathan de Vries made a great save to deny the striker as he and his teammates appealed unsuccessfully to referee George Bruce of Vanuatu for a penalty.
The opportunities kept cropping up at either end of the pitch, but the finishing from both sides was lacking. The frustration slowly crept into the mix, showing through in the challenges, which at times were on the border of legality.
The advantage finally came in the 36th minute as Emiliano Tade advanced into the Pirae box, cut inside his defender and sent his shot flying past Torohia.
A short time later the frustration from both sides boiled over as Joao Moreira of Auckland City and Raimoana Bennett of Pirae were cautioned in the 40th and 42nd minutes respectively.
Coming back from the break Auckland City looked to extend their lead as quickly as possible when just 40 seconds in de Vries delivered for Moreira who had the ball whipped away from his outstretched foot by Torohia.
Javier Paez and Augustin Dallera did well in the centre of defence to keep Auckland City’s attacks contained, but Tade was able to move relatively freely up the right flank with Teva Zaveroni struggling to counter the Argentinian’s speed.
Pirae had a couple of chances through the play-making skills of captain Marama Vahirua but his attackers didn’t have the finishing touch that served them so well during the group stage in Fiji.
In the 68th minute Auckland City got the break they sought when, from a throw in touched into the danger zone, Joao Moreira headed down to beat a diving Torohia.
The Tahitians, to their credit, never gave up and continued to search for an away goal that would keep them in good stead for the return leg of the semi-finals. Their efforts were hindered when Vahirua went down with an injury and had to be replaced with 15 minutes remaining on the clock.
They applied pressure on the backline and came within inches of knocking in that desired away goal but just came up short. Their best chance was in the 90th minute as a hand ball just outside the Auckland City box put Pirae in good stead to nick a goal back. Raimoana Bennett’s effort came within inches of the goal but was no good. The bad news only got worse for the visitors as Emiliano Tade made a stunning solo run which he slammed home to give his side a 3-0 lead in additional time.
With no time left to knick one back, Pirae were left disappointed with what might have been – disappointment that was evident in the face of Pirae assistant coach Samuel Garcia as he reflected on the match he’d just witnessed.
“I think that we were definitely in this match. I think we were a little shy at first but we have also fallen on an Auckland City team that not at all of the same level as the teams we encountered in Fiji,” Garcia says.
“Sure, we were dominated by this side, but at the same time we also played the game, we saw some good things and the result isn’t mission impossible.”
With the return leg at home in a week’s time Garcia believes his team is still in this competition.
“At home we have fans who will come out and support us. We want to do our best in front of them and hopefully we will see a better result next week.”
For Auckland City’s victorious coach Ramon Tribulietx, it was a win – but the hard work is far from over.
“I think we played a very good game, with the ball and without the ball. We knew they were a very dangerous team, they have some very good players in Vahirua, Raimana Li Fung Kuee and they can capitalise from scraps and transitions so we knew we had to be alert,” he says.
To have the three- goal advantage going into the second leg is valuable, and Tribulietx is certainly pleased to have prevented his visitors from claiming an away goal. Which is what he will implore his side to chase in order to seal their passage to the finals.
“We know that if we get an away goal up there then we have an advantage, but again they’re a very good side, very strong so up there it’s going to be different.
“The heat, the field is completely different so we need to make sure that we compete really well up there otherwise we’re going to struggle.”
The OFC Champions League action continues tomorrow Govind Park in Ba, Fiji with Ba FC and Amicale FC meeting for the first leg of their home and away semi-finals with kick off scheduled for 1pm (local).

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