Team Wellington sounded a warning to their remaining OFC Champions League rivals with a comprehensive 11-0 dismantling of Papua New Guinea champions Lae City Dwellers in their quarterfinal at David Farrington Park on Saturday.
The hosts dominated from start to finish with Nathanael Hailemariam opening the scoring in just the 6th minute on his way to a first half hat trick while Angus Kilkolly headlined the scoring with four goals.
Scott Hilliar, Andy Bevin, Justin Gulley and Mario Barcia shared the rest as Wellington secured a two-legged semi-final against the winner of Auckland City and Solomon Warriors who play on Sunday.
Wellington also rattled the woodwork three times as Lae City struggled to adapt to both the cold conditions and the way Wellington were able to stretch their defence and exploit the resulting space.
The one-sided win equals the biggest victory in the Champions League era of Oceania club competition – set last season by Auckland City’s 11-0 win over Malampa Revivors – and establishes a new mark for the largest win in a knockout phase.
“We’re delighted,” said Team Wellington coach José Figueira, whose side were coming off a defeat to Auckland City on last week’s grand final of the New Zealand premiership.
“The boys were pretty eager to get out on the field after the disappointment of last week and I thought we were exceptional today.
“Every game we play we want to play our way and dominate the games by attacking. We were disappointed last week that we didn’t cause as many problems as we normally do in the final third and that was a big focus this week at training.
“It was Lae today, but I think it was any other team today they might have been on the end of same thing. I’m delighted with every area of the game today.”
Lae City Dwellers coach Peter Gunemba was still shell-shocked after the Wellington onslaught in what was an historic first ever playoff game for Lae.
“It’s too much to comprehend,” Gunemba said.
“It’s a game. It’s gone now and we look ahead to next season in the Champions League. We did not expect the score would be this way.”
Hailemariam grabbed the first of his treble in the sixth minute when he gathered the ball on the edge of the area before lifting it over an on-rushing Ronald Warisan and eight minutes later, as the rain began to fall, Hailemariam pounced on a poorly-cleared ball to slot his second beneath the Lae ‘keeper.
Scott Hilliar met a Mario Illich corner with a firm near-post header to add Wellington’s third in the 17th minute and Angus Kilkolly pushed it out to five in the 40th minute with two goals in as many minutes.
Andy Bevin laid the ball on a plate in front of goal for Hailemariam to complete his hat trick just before the sides went into the sheds with the scoreboard showing 6-0 and it took Kilkolly 45 seconds after the restart to round out his treble, heading a Roy Kayara cross in off the upright.
Kayara was again involved in Wellington’s eighth, forcing a save from Warisan that fell to the feet of Andy Bevin who made no mistake from close range in the 57th minute.
Justin Gulley produced a fine solo effort 11 minutes later, cutting in from the right flank before riding the challenge of a would-be tackler and beating Warisan one-on one before Kilkolly and Mario Barcia added two more goals for good measure in injury time.
The quarterfinals continued on Saturday with Vanuatu’s Nalkutan FC hosting Marist FC from the Solomon Islands and the conclude on Sunday with Auckland City FC meeting Solomon Warriors before AS Dragon host Fiji’s Lautoka in Tahiti.