Defending champions Auckland City FC booked their place in the semi-finals of the OFC Champions League on Saturday with an emphatic 11-0 win over Malampa Revivors at Mangere Centre Park in Auckland to seal a perfect record in Group C.
Western United’s rollicking 5-3 win over Papua New Guinea’s Lae City Dwellers earlier in the day drew them level with Auckland on points meaning the Navy Blues needed a point to confirm their place in the final four ahead of the Solomon Islands champions.
But the eight-time confederation champions never looked under threat, scoring early and never looking back en route to posting the biggest winning margin in the champions league era of Oceania club competition.
Ryan De Vries netted in just the seventh minute and went on to add three more strikes. Partner Joao Moreira also claimed a hat trick while Micah Lea’alafa scored a quick-fire double around the half-hour mark which essentially put the game to bed.
Harry Edge and substitute Reid Drake also got their names on the score sheet as Champions League debutants Malampa got a painful example of the level at the other end of the competition’s spectrum.
Ramon Tribulietx was unsurprisingly happy with his side’s performance but added a warning to keep their feet on the ground.
“I think the first half was competitive especially the first 25 to 30 minutes, and then after went three nil up they gave up but it’s understandable,” Tribulietx said.
“I think we played a good game we kept our standards high. I’m very happy with the performance.
“It’s just one game. It doesn’t win anything. We need to move on and stay tuned up for what’s coming.”
Malampa Revivors coach Percy Avock was pleased with his inexperienced side’s effort but feels that his side were overawed by the eight time champions.
“After the first and second goals the team dropped their performance, they gave up, so we need to work harder, we need to get good experience for players to improve,” he said.
“Playing against Auckland City for the first time affected them mentally and they were lost. But I am happy for their hard work.”
Auckland join New Caledonia’s AS Magenta and New Zealand’s Team Wellington – winners of Group A and B respectively – in the semi-final draw, which will be conducted on Monday. Group D concludes later tonight in Papeete with hosts Tefana facing Marist for the remaining semi-final berth.
With both sides in the early match chasing a victory by at least two goals to keep the pressure on Auckland City, Western United’s clash with Lae City Dwellers promised to be an attacking affair and the teams did not disappoint.
Despite the match being an end-to-end spectacle, Western were far more clinical in front of goal and raced to a three goal lead after 37 minutes thanks to a Henry Fa’arodo penalty and goals to Paul Wale and Joachim Waroi.
Lae’s skipper Raymond Gunemba had the final say in the half cutting into the deficit just before half time and an unlikely comeback looked a possibility when Ken Kepe met a corner at the back post on the hour mark.
Veteran striker Benjamin Totori rolled back the years with a dazzling solo effort to restore the two-goal cushion five minutes later and Atana Fa’arodo made the points safe with an 88th minute penalty.
George Debenham scored an injury-time consolation goal for Lae, who were now down to ten men after Obert Bika’s 84th minute dismissal.
The result was made academic with Auckland securing the points they needed but Western United coach Commins Menapi was still happy to take the qualification race to the final match.
“I am very proud of my boys today especially their win today this is a big win for us today and they did a great effort they give hundred per cent today,” Menapi said.
Lae City Dwellers coach Peter Gunemba thought conceding the penalty changed the course of the match.
“In the first half we had the control of the ball and seemed like we were controlling the game but we missed a lot of chances,” said Gunemba.
“Western United scored from the penalty our players weren’t happy with the decision and dropped their performance.
“We did well to score one and give us hope for the second half then things didn’t turn out the right way.”