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Dramatic draw see Waitakere through to final

Despite finishing the match with 10-men, Neil Emblen’s side held on for the crucial point and will now face Group B winners Hekari United in a two-legged final (17 April/2 May) to see who will represent Oceania at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010. Auckland City meanwhile have to settle for second place in the group, falling short on goal difference by just one.
A goal in each half for Solomon Islands import Benjamin Totori twice put the visitors ahead but Auckland City stayed in the match with a first half penalty for Daniel Koprivcic and a headed goal by Greg Uhlmann. Defending champions Auckland had plenty of chances to win the match in the dying stages but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Speaking after the match, Emblen paid credit to his players for their defensive efforts.
“We rode our luck at the end there as they had some really good opportunities to grab the winner but players like Rowley, Sykes and Scott put in a heroic effort for us on defence,” said the Waitakere player-coach.
Totori got Waitakere off to the perfect start with a goal in the 3rd minute after he sliced through the heart of Auckland’s defence and coolly angled the ball past Jacob Spoonley.
Adam Dickinson went agonisingly close to an equaliser hitting the crossbar in the 27th minute but fortunately for the Kiwitea faithful, it’s wasn’t long before the home side had their first goal. On the half hour mark, Waitakere defender Neil Sykes gave away a penalty bringing down Jason Hayne inside the box and Daniel Koprivcic stepped up to score his seventh O-League goal.
The second half continued much the same as the first with Waitakere looking ever dangerous on the counter-attack while Auckland City controlled possession for long periods.
It was a piece of magic from Totori in the 58th minute that gave the visitors the lead. On another break, the Solomon Islands international collected a Martin Bullock pass then cut inside and unleashed a left-foot screamer from the edge of the box for one of the goals of the season.
But Auckland were undeterred and hit back in the 70th minute when Waitakere goalkeeper Danny Robinson could only punch Ki-Hyung Lee’s cross-cum-shot to Uhlmann who headed the ball low into the bottom corner.
The game heated up even further in the 73rd minute when Jake Butler was sent from the field for his second yellow card.
Auckland applied the pressure in the final 10 minutes with Dickinson, Lee and Chad Coombes all going close but Robinson held his nerve in goal to ensure the draw.
Emblen says it’s a great result for the club but admits the job is not yet done.
“We’ve still got 180 minutes of football ahead of us. Hekari had another big win this weekend and since they’ve recruited the Solomon Islands boys they’ve looked a real force. We know that Papua New Guinea won’t be an easy place to play, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
In the other Group A match this weekend, AS Magenta thrashed AS Manu Ura 8-1 in Noumea on Saturday to claim third spot over the Tahitians.
For full schedule and results click here
Auckland City FC: 2 (Daniel KOPRIVCIC 30’, Greg UHLMANN 70’)
Waitakere United: 2 (Benjamin TOTORI 3’, 58’)
Half-time: 1-1
Sunday 28 March 2010
Auckland, New Zealand
Kiwitea Street
Referee: Norbert HAUATA [TAH]
Assistant Referee 1: Brent BEST [TAH]
Assistant Referee 2: Mark RULE [NZL]
Fourth Official: Mirko BENISCHKE [NZL]
Auckland City FC: 1. Jacob SPOONLEY [GK], 3. Ian HOGG, 5. Matt WILLIAMS (10. Grant YOUNG 65’), 6. Ki-Hyung LEE, 8. Chad COOMBES, 11. Daniel KOPRIVCIC, 13. Alex FENERIDIS (9. Paul URLOVIC 81’) 15. Ivan VICELICH, 16. Jason HAYNE, 20. Greg UHLMANN, 22. Adam DICKINSON
Substitutes not used: 21. Ricky VAN STEEDEN, 24. Luis CORRALES, 4. Sam CAMPBELL, 18. Paul GOTHARD [GK]
Coach: Paul POSA [NZL]
Yellow cards:
Ivan VICELICH 7’, Greg UHLMANN 51’, Chad COOMBES 64’, Jason HAYNE 68’
Red cards:
Waitakere United: 1. Danny ROBINSON [GK], 2. Jason ROWLEY (4. Tim MEYERS 80’), 3. Aaron SCOTT, 7. Martin BULLOCK, 8. Brent FISHER, 9. Benjamin TOTORI (21. Jack PELTER), 10. Alan PEARCE, 11. Neil SYKES, 12. Roy KRISHNA, 16. Neil EMBLEN, 17. Jake BUTLER
Substitutes not used: 19. Dakota SOLAS, 20. Ryan DE VRIES, 22. Liam LITTLE [GK], 24. Luke ADAMS
Coach: Neil EMBLEN [ENG]
Yellow cards:
Jake BUTLER 56’, 73’
Red cards:
Jake BUTLER 73’

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