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Auckland City secure minor premiership

Auckland City's Joao Moreira is mobbed after scoring from the spot. Image: David Joseph/OFC via Phototek

Auckland City staged a late comeback to secure the minor premiership title of the Stirling Sports Premiership at Kiwitea Street in Auckland at the weekend.

The six-time champions, who were looking to bounce back from their 4-1 loss to Waitakere United last weekend, took the lead over Eastern Suburbs when they were awarded a penalty in the 66th minute.

Joao Moreira broke clear on the counter-attack and Ross Haviland brought him down leaving referee Peter Linney a straightforward decision. Moreira made no mistake with an unstoppable penalty high to Suburbs’ keeper Silvio Rodic’s right to take the lead.

But there was more drama to come as the Lily Whites kept coming and got back on level terms in the final few moments. Derek Tieku, a former Crystal Palace professional, delivered a fine shot which was blocked by Enaut Zubikarai but tapped home by All Whites’ midfielder Moses Dyer in the 88th minute.

The Navy Blues were not finished and another All White Clayton Lewis, who has been in sparkling form for his side in 2017, came up with the decisive play in the 90th minute.  Lewis cut the ball back for Emiliano Tade to slam the ball past standout keeper Rodic for the winner to secure the Minor Premiership title and also OFC Champions League qualification.

It was Auckland City’s fourth successive minor premiership title and their eighth overall, meanwhile Suburbs will have a nervous wait to see if they have qualified for the playoffs. For the Lily Whites to make the final four, Hawke’s Bay United must lose to Hamilton Wanderers in Napier next week.

For more on football in New Zealand visit www.nzfootball.co.nz

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