(Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek)
A moment of Marie Kaipu brilliance has inspired hometown side Hekari United to a crucial 5-0 victory over previously unbeaten Koloale FC in the OFC Women’s Champions League in Port Moresby.
After a largely forgettable first 39 minutes of a match played in blustery conditions at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium, Kaipu set the game alight with stunning individual goal.
The 25-year-old Hekari striker and captain cut inside the box and unleashed a beautiful left foot shot from an acute angle that left Sylvester Maenu’u in the Koloale FC goal no chance.
Up until that moment the game lacked any rhythm, and while the biggest crowd of the tournament so far roared every time the Hekari players touched the ball, there was little goal mouth action.
Playing into a stiff breeze, the Solomon Islanders battled to get the ball out of their half with playmaker Ileen Pegi largely isolated. Hekari were often guilty of putting too much on their passes and the wind did the rest.
The momentum of scoring the late first half goal was carried through to the second half by Hekari United. Roared on by an increasingly boisterous home crowd, they came within a whisker of extending their lead a minute into the second spell when Michaelyne Butubu fired centimeters wide after being put clear down the flank.
Butubu didn’t have to wait long to get on the scoreboard however, Kaipu turning the provider with dazzling skills inside the box, she toyed with the defence before laying the ball back for Butubu who drove a right foot shot high into the back of the net two minutes later. Hekari were on fire and Kaipu managed to squeeze the ball past the keeper a couple of minutes later only for Koloale defender Rose Sambiru to get back and clear the ball off the line.
Hekari made the game safe in the 64th minute when Kaipu scored her seventh goal of the tournament, from the penalty spot, having been brought down by Koloale FC defender Lisa Solo.
Ramona Padio added a fourth in the 72nd minute. A run down the touchline from Kaipu, resulted in a cross to Padio, whose control and turn bewildered the defence and she thundered a shot into the top right-hand corner of the net.
Christable Maneo added a late fifth in the dying moments of the match with a simple tap-in from a couple of yards out.
The result means New Caledonia’s AS Academy Féminine will need at least a point from Saturday’s match against Koloale FC to be certain of claiming the inaugural OFC Women’s Champions League title. Defeat would open the door for Hekari United who would claim the title on goal difference if they won their final match of the tournament in the later game on Saturday against Labasa Women FC.
Hekari United: 5 (Marie KAIPU 40’ 64 pen’ Michaelyne BUTUBU 48’ Ramona PADIO 74’, Christable MANEO 90′)
Koloale FC: 0