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Auckland City makes it semis

International Sports

Auckland City qualies for OFC semis. OFC picAuckland City qualies for OFC semis. OFC picA draw would have seen them set up a repeat of tonight’s match against Amicale however the Vanuatu club’s campaign is over with the defeat as they miss out on the best runners-up spot on goal difference.

 

Elsewhere, the Solomon Warriors have finished their campaign on a high following a nine-goal thriller to defeat Papua New Guinean debutants Lae City Dwellers 5-4.

Auckland City’s top-of-the table clash with Amicale was one of the most anticipated games of the group stages.
The two sides are well acquainted having played each other on numerous occasions over the past three years with Auckland City taking the head-to-head advantage into today’s encounter.

The Navy Blues looked comfortable in the early stages, patiently passing the ball around to settle into their possession-based style. But despite being in control for long periods they were unable to create clear-cut chances.

The defending champions found themselves on the back-foot in the 25th minute when former teammate Adam Dickinson brought the ball down in the box before turning and placing his shot past goalkeeper Diego Rivas.

Auckland City came close to responding five minutes later but Vanuatu keeper Mauro Boerchio did well to keep out two headers in a row from Portuguese danger-man Joao Moreira,

Ramon Tribulietx’s men have looked the better for the reminder of the half but were forced to go into the break trailing 1-0.

The second half continued in a familiar fashion with the Navy Blues controlling possession and restricting Amicale to counter-attacks.

The seven-time champions’ patience finally paid dividends in the 71st minute when a deep cross from Takuya Iwata found Darren White who cut it onto his left before driving into the far corner.

Not content with the stalemate the Navy Blues pushed numbers forward in search of a winner that would prevent them from having to meet Amicale again in three days’ time.

Ryan De Vries and Moreira both looked increasingly dangerous against the tiring Amicale defence before one cap All White sent a low shot rocketing past Boerchio in the 90th minute to make it 2-1.

There was still time for a third Auckland City goal deep into injury time when the Boerchio’s clearance hit the back of one of his own players. The ball fell to Moreira who calmly slotted past Boerchio.

Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx insists his side deserved to win.

“It was a big test. I think we played a fantastic game to be honest. We dominated the game from start to finish but when they scored that goal the nerves have popped out, that’s normal,” Tribulietx says.

“In the second half we managed to assert our style, we readjusted a couple of things and that gave us a bit more depth in the way we were attacking.”

Despite a disappointing end to their campaign, Amicale boss Mauro Bertoni was gracious in defeat.

“I think the difference between the two teams to be honest is too big. It’s incredible to play against team with such a high level for a team like us.

“We tried to play our game the plan was clear to cover all the space, because if we give space to Auckland they will kill us. We tried and I’m disappointed with the 3-1 score line.”

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