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Quarterfinal race wide open in Group D

An action of the match between Auckland City and Tupapa Maraerenga at Lawson Tama Stadium. Photo: OFC Media.

Auckland City puts one feet into the quarterfinals of the OFC Champions League 2019 after a big 15-0 win over Tupapa Maraerenga and AS Magenta keep their hopes alive with a 3-0 victory against Solomon Warriors on match day two of the Group D at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Tupapa Maraerenga came out strong defensively with Auckland City sending minor probes into a defensive scheme that was compact and flowed where the ball traveled.  Tupapa Maraerenga was able to limit the damage in the first half to only three goals scored against them.

“First half was competitive, we got three goals, we understood that the goal difference was going to be important coming into the last round of games,” said Ramon Tribulietx, coach for Auckland City.

But in the second half, things came apart for Tupapa as Auckland City was able to crack through that defense to score 12 goals on their way to a 15-0 outing.

“It was a good first half they were still in the game, obviously in the second half when we went up about three or four more, it wasn’t a game anymore unfortunately,” Tribulietx explained, “but we decided the best way to show respect to them was to play a good game and this is what we tried to do right up to the end.”

Three players completed hat tricks for Auckland City — Omar Guardiola (20’, 40’, 57’), Fabrizio Tavano (28’, 63’, 85’) and Cook Islander, Maro Banso-Maro (65’, 68’, 73’, 90+2) who actually finished with four goals.  David Browne (53’, 82’) and Micah Lea’alafa (62’, 84’) came on in the second half and scored a brace of goals, while Daniel Morgan, 72’, scored once.

Tribulietx put down any notion that they have gone through the quarterfinals, saying that it is still too close to call.

“First thing we haven’t qualified yet, it could still be six points each, we still have a tough game coming up on Saturday against the Solomon Warriors,” he pointed out.

“Again, it’s not over, we need to think about that last round which is going to be the decider.”

Tupapa Maraerenga coach Delaney Yaqona was impressed with his team strong start to the game despite another heavy defeat in the group.

“We have a much better start to what we had in the last game, unfortunately a couple of mistakes in the first half and gave Auckland City at half time a 3 nil lead scoreline,” he said.

“At that stage the boys were still playing well, unfortunately the injury that happens in the first half disrupted our structure and they got some early goals in the second half that get them on the roll which was really difficult to defend.”

In the latter Group D fixture, AS Magenta keep their hopes alive in the competition with a 3-0 win over hosts Solomon Warriors to open up the group going into the final match day on Saturday.

Both teams started on a positive note with an equally contested match in the opening minutes.

First big moment of the game arrived in the 23rd minute when referee Joel Hopken pointed to the spot for a penalty for Solomon Warriors after Alwin Hou was fouled in the box by AS Magenta goalkeeper Steeve Ixoee.

The AS Magenta custodian makes restitution for his error to parry away Kensi Tangis penalty.

The hosts were punished in the 32nd minute as Richard Sele clean strike outside the box put AS Magenta in front.

Sele scored a second from the spot in the dying embers of the first half to hand AS Magenta a 2-0 lead at the break.

The hosts were awarded a 47th minute penalty but again Ixoee was equaled to the task to saved Tigi Molea’s spot kick.

Solomon Warriors came back stronger in the second half as Atkin Kaua, Tigi Molea, Kensi Tangis and Haddis Aengari were denied by the woodwork.

The intensity was high in later stages of the match which resulted in yellow cards shown to eight players from both teams.

Wilson Poameno received a second yellow card on the stroke of 90 minute to see red.

Despite a man down, Nathanael Hmaen puts the game to bed with a third goal for AS Magenta to seal a crucial win for the Francophone side.

AS Magenta coach Alain Mozian was pleased with the crucial win which put them back into contention for the quarterfinals.

“Obviously I’m very, very happy with my team. This team unfortunately has the characteristics of Caledonians – at their best when their backs are against the wall,” the jubilant coach said.

“Today we had to win because otherwise there’d be no qualification (to the quarter-finals) so hopefully we will have six points, we have the smallest team to go and we would expect to win.”

The French man stressed his team has all to play for on the final match day despite whatever the outcome of the Auckland City and Solomon Warriors clash on Saturday.

“We’ll wait and see what Warriors can do against Auckland, I hope that Auckland will play the match at their normal rhythm and I wish the Warriors all the best for their next match.

“Tupapa, we’re going to win. It’s an obligation and we also expect to score a lot of goals. I think qualification is all but guaranteed because Auckland are more than capable of winning the match and Auckland will want to receive the quarter final at home. We’re expecting to make it to the quarter finals – but away from home,” Moizan explained.

Solomon Warriors coach Moses Toata admitted that his boys were under immense pressure from start to finish.

“Well to be honest, we were under a lot of pressure given from the first minute AS Magenta came in today with a different attitude compared to the game against Auckland City, they were more determined the way they put us under pressure,” he said.

“We could have controlled the pressure but under pressure my boys giving away the ball too easily, that’s cost us the game.”

As it stands after match day two, Auckland City leading with six points, Solomon Warriors on second spot with three points and a superior goal difference to AS Magenta. Already eliminated Tuapapa Maraerenga still without a point.

Meanwhile, the teams will have two days of rest before Group D resumes on Saturday at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara, Solomon Islands.












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