Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

Auckland United FC speedster Rene Wasi baggd a hat-trick to clinch a resounding 3-0 victory against defending champions AS Academy Féminine at the National Stadium in the OFC Women’s Champions League.

A draw with Labasa Women FC rendered today’s game a must win for United, and the challenge of reigning champions AS Academy posed a considerable threat. 

To calm any nerves that may have lingered at the first whistle, Auckland United struck early, Papua New Guinea-born Rene Wasi latched on to a brilliant cross before chipping the goalkeeper in the fifth minute to put the New Zealanders in the lead and settle any nerves.

With their tails up the Kiwis threatened again on multiple occasions, but some resolute defending from their New Caledonian opponents ensured the scoreline didn’t blow out.

As they did in their previous match AS Academy Féminine started slowly before eventually finding some momentum. A free-kick in the 25th minute from Captain Alice Wenessia crashed into the crossbar.

This triggered a frenetic period around the Auckland penalty area, with AS Academy hot on attack but wave after wave of pressure was managed well by the Auckland United defence and the clean sheet was preserved.

Auckland’s dominance on the ball paid off just before the first-half whistle could sound when Wasi got her second. Talisha Green releasing her down the middle of the field, before the forward calmly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Anais Barth.

The forward completed a superb hat-trick just ten minutes later. Yume Harashima received the ball deep, before slipping in an advancing Pia Vlok, who despite being tripped, managed to release Wasi. The forward then unleashed a rocket into the top corner, putting the game beyond doubt.

Not satisfied with a three-goal haul, Wasi almost turned provider six minutes later, though substitute Charlotte Roche could only hit the post from close range. Wasi then teed up Penny Brill, who dragged her shot wide as Auckland continued their attacking onslaught.

As the minutes ticked by, AS Academy’s chances to pull the game back began to fade, largely reduced to long range shots as they became frustrated by the strong United defensive line.

Substitute Roache made her presence felt, and almost had her first goal of the game only to be denied by the post against in the 87th minute.

Penny Brill then added a clinching fourth goal for the New Zealand side in the 89th minute. The forward pounced on a loose clearance from AS Academy, before drilling the ball into the net. Roache then finally got the goal she deserved in stoppage time – securing an important victory for Auckland United that sees them top of Group B with one match left to play.

AS Academy Féminine: 0
Auckland United: 5 (Rene Wasi 5′, 45+4′, 54, Penny BRILL 89′, Charlotte ROACHE 90+2)

HT: 2-0