In the debut match of the OFC Champions League this season, Auckland City from New Zealand managed to secure a 3-1 win against Solomon Islands’ champions, Solomon Warriors. Despite a strong start from the Warriors, it was Auckland City who emerged victorious in the end. The match was played in Luganville’s Soccer City Stadium, in Vanuatu.
The Warriors began the match with a counter-attack that harmed the Navy Blues: after a rebound, Harrison Mala set up Tigi Molea to score and put the Warriors ahead in the 8th minute, thanks to a deflection in Auckland City’s defense. However, Auckland City kept their nerves cool and kept possession of the ball, while the Warriors continued to threaten on the counter.
Auckland’s best chance in the first half came from Angus Kilkolly, but his shot was denied by Timothy Mae’arasia. However, the momentum of the game shifted in the second half when the Spanish player Gerrard Garriga was fouled inside the penalty box by Timothy Mae’arasia, who was subsequently red carded, leaving the Warriors with ten men. Joseph Komu replaced star player Dennis Ifunaoa in goal, but he was unable to stop the penalty, which was well-taken by Angus Kilkolly, putting Auckland City back on level terms.
In the 77th minute, Garriga found himself in a great position to finish and put Auckland City ahead, before Ryan de Vries extended their lead minutes later with a header, assisted by the youngster Joe Lee. The final score of the match was 3-1 in favor of Auckland City, who secured three points from their opening game.
Auckland City will play their next match in Group A against Fiji’s Suva, while the Warriors will look to bounce back against Samoa’s champions, Lupe o le Soaga. Overall, it was a well-deserved victory for Auckland City, who showed their experience and composure under pressure to secure a valuable win in the opening game of the tournament.
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