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Kiwi sides open with big wins

Auckland City and Waitakere United have been separated into different groups for the first time in the O-League’s history and sounded a warning to their rivals by beating Koloale 4-1 and Tefana 10-0 respectively. Waitakere’s massive home success over the Tahitians is the highest ever winning margin in the O-League and will give them a distinct goal differential advantage should the group go down to the wire.
Last season’s runners-up Amicale very nearly joined the triumphant pair in starting with three points but the Vanuatu outfit was denied victory by a dramatic late strike in a 1-1 draw with Papua New Guinea’s Hekari United in Port Vila.
Conceding a late goal would not have been anywhere near as damaging for Waitakere, who completely dominated 10-man Tefana from the moment goalkeeper Xavier Samin was shown a red card for bringing down Fijian international Roy Krishna in the box in the seventh minute.
Tefana coach Laurent Heinis swiftly brought on reserve goalkeeper Leonce Roometua but his first job was to pick the ball out of the net after former All White Allan Pearce smashed home the spot kick.
“From then on, we were clinical in our finishing and are well pleased with 10 goals obviously,” Waitakere coach Neil Emblen said.
Krishna led the way with a five-goal haul but faced a fight for the match ball after Ryan De Vries also struck a hat-trick in the rout.
“We were expecting a really tough game and, had it been 11 versus 11, I think it would have been a lot tougher,” Emblen said. “But you have to take these opportunities when they come up and that’s what we did.”
Tefana’s task got even more difficult in the 14th minute when De Vries notched his first and they must have wished they were back on the beaches of Tahiti as the half-time whistle sounded at 6-0, Pearce and De Vries scoring again to complement two Krishna strikes.
The previous highest O-League win had been 8-1 – a feat achieved by Auckland City over Port Vila Sharks in 2009 and Magenta against Manu-Ura a year later – and that record was now under serious threat. Three further goals to Krishna and the completion of De Vries’ hat-trick in a second half of total Waitakere domination ensured the setting of a new mark as Emblen’s men emphasised their eagerness to earn a first O-League title since 2008.
Auckland are gunning for their third title and got off to the ideal start, overcoming the heat and humidity of Honiara for their success against Koloale.
With temperatures soaring into the mid-30s and an extremely vocal crowd packed into Lawson Tama Stadium, the result was never going to be straightforward but a pair of braces, to former Barcelona B striker Manel Exposito and All Whites midfielder David Mulligan, were enough to steer City home and justify their favouritism for another title.
Exposito got the scoring underway from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute and notched his second in the 54th, darting down the right before finding the net with a delightful chip. But any hopes City had of a comfortable last half hour were dashed when Chad Coombes brought down Solomon Islands international James Naka in the box on 73 minutes and former Waitakere United star Benjamin Totori slotted home.
Koloale now had every chance of taking something from the match and pushed hard for an equaliser. But when a goal did arrive it was not at the end the Koloale faithful would have preferred, Mulligan restoring Auckland’s two-goal cushion with a fortuitous lob with a few minutes remaining. The former Wellington Phoenix man then made sure the points would be going City’s way with another strike in injury time.
“I believe the match could have gone either way and the scoreline does not reflect how well we played,” Koloale assistant coach Jeffery Allen said. “Auckland City are a top-class side and they are the standard we want to work towards. We have definitely taken things from this match that we can use when we meet them again later in the season.”
The injury time goal across in Port Vila was far more significant, Hekari striker Kema Jack pouncing with one of the last kicks of the match to deny Amicale, who had opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time through 2011 O-League Golden Boot Fenedy Masauvakalo.
The last match of the opening 2012 O-League round takes place tomorrow when Ba welcome New Caledonia representatives Mont-Dore to Fiji.
Waitakere United vs Tefana Summary Click Here
Koloale vs Auckland City Summary Click Here
Amicale vs Hekari United Summary Click Here
Competition Summary Click Here
Disciplinary Summary Click Here

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