Hosts AS Magenta produced a clinical performance to overcome their Solomon Islands rivals and finish on top of Group C of the OFC Champions League on the third and final matchday at Noumea’s Stade Numa-Daly.
The New Caledonians’ triumph on Saturday night has earned them hosting rights for the start of the knockout stages in April, while the Solomon Warriors, who have also advanced to the final eight as Group C runners-up, will have to wait till next week’s official draw to find out their quarterfinal destination.
AS Magenta 2-0 Solomon Warriors
Following their five-goal thriller against AS Tiare Tahiti on Wednesday night, AS Magenta knew that a draw against the Solomon Warriors would be enough for them to claim Group C honours.
However, the hosts made their attacking intent clear from the outset to grab the lead in the 16th minute courtesy of Fonzy Ranchain, who took full advantage of a defensive blunder before keeping his composure to beat Warriors keeper Timothy Maearasia with a lovely drive from inside the box.
It got even better for Alain Moizan’s charges thanks to another failure by the Warriors’ defence to clear the ball as Nathanael Hmaen popped up at the right place to double Magenta’s advantage inside the half-hour mark.
With the Solomon Islanders now needing to score three unanswered goals to leapfrog their rivals in the standings, they pushed numbers forward looking for a way to get back into the contest.
Despite all their advances, Selson Molea’s men never really looked like creating meaningful chances as the hosts used their experience to hold onto their lead by controlling the tempo of the match for the remainder.
Coach Alain Moizan was delighted with his players’ performance after the win.
“We were far better organised and disciplined tonight than in our first match against AS Tiare Tahiti,” enthused the Magenta mentor.
“We are not in our best condition yet, we need more game time to get stronger and fitter, we need to improve physically. We gave away a few chances but I’m happy with the way we kept control after taking the two-goal lead. We are on the right track,” Moizan said.
“It was important for us to finish on top in order to secure a home quarterfinal. Our domestic league is kicking off next week and by the time we get to the knockout stages we will have a few tough matches in our legs, which will count for a lot,” he added.
Meanwhile his Solomon Warriors counterpart couldn’t hide his disappointment.
“It was a very tough match for us, Magenta played very well and they executed their game plan well,” Molea said.
“They forced us to press high and they forced us into making mistakes. They deserved their win today,” admitted the Warriors coach.
AS Magenta finished top of Group C to secure a home quarterfinal of the OFC Champions League 2020.
The Solomon Warriors are also through to the knockout stages as Group C runners-up.
To view the results, match schedule and latest news for the OFC Champions League 2020