Words: ACFC Media
Saturday 24 July 2021
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC sealed its place in the National League Championship round after a 2-0 victory over West Coast Rangers FC at Kiwitea Street today.
The victory maintained City's 12-point advantage over Auckland United FC and gives José Figueira's team a total of 43 points from a possible 48. Beyond United, the gap to third placed Birkenhead United is 19 points, illustrating the fine form the Navy Blues have been in.
VIDEO - Myer Bevan opens the scoring (Angle 1)
Another goal by former All Whites international striker Myer Bevan midway through the first half and one from youngster Kristoff Muller capped off a routine victory for the Navy Blues whose attention now turns to next Saturday's block buster Chatham Cup quarter final with Miramar Rangers in Wellington.
Bevan opened the scoring when Alfie Rogers played a beautiful pass in behind the Rangers defence that allowed his team-mate to calmly pick his spot beyond goalkeeper Luca Taylor.
Rangers, coached by former Navy Blues midfield great, Albert Riera, were a markedly improved side from the one City defeated 4-0 back in April and Ben Gallagher and Ignacio Machuca drew a couple of top saves out of Conor Tracey.
GOAL!!! Myer Bevan opens the scoring (Angle 2)
Any edginess around a long standing 1-0 lead soon evaporated when Muller, on for Addison Stewart, spotted a gap in behind the Rangers defence and latched onto a nice pass from Bevan before slamming home a beautiful left foot shot past Taylor to double the lead.
It was Muller's first goal for the first team in just his third appearance.
Rangers coach Albert Riera won't be pleased by the result but will take encouragement from a vastly different quality of performance from previous weeks.
MOMENT'S SILENCE - Jack Ilich, Jared Williams
MOMENTS SILENCE— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) July 24, 2021
Prior to kick-off Auckland City FC recognised the passing of relatives of current player Mario Ilich & former Navy Blue Matt Williams - Jack Ilich, Mario's grandfather, and Jared Williams, Matt's brother & president of Ngaruawahia United.
Always in our thoughts pic.twitter.com/fL1LNoUh1z
Coach José Figueira was pleased with the low key result before next week's clash with another Rangers, Miramar Rangers.
"I'm delighted with the win. Rangers caused a bit of a surprise with how they lined up. We had prepared for something a little bit different and that added to what was a disjointed first half that lacked free flowing football.
GOAL!!! Kristoff Muller scores the second
73' 2-0— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) July 24, 2021
GOAL!!! Its Kristoff Muller who latches onto a Bevan pass and slams home a beautiful shot past Taylor to double the lead - that's a great team goal, a great individual goal. Its well worth a Tim Tam. #ACvWC #NZNationalLeague #StrengthInUnity #NavyBlues pic.twitter.com/7IqBHSBUV6
"We caused Rangers a lot of problems down the left side but we wanted to do that down both sides but we couldn't quite get that going, that quick switch and circulation.
"Rangers set up very well and caused us some issues but we had a good chat at half time and made a few tweaks and started to create more opportunities and maybe could've had at least one other goal.
SAVE!!! Conor Tracey saves the day
43' | 1-0— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) July 24, 2021
SAVE!!! Ryan Clarke lets rip with a swerving right foot shot that Conor Tracey tips over the crossbar - the corner is fired in and its a goalmouth scramble that is sees Rangers shoot wide of the target#ACvWC #NZNationalLeague #StrengthInUnity #NavyBlues pic.twitter.com/5uY399mZNm
"At 1-0 the game can feel a little bit edgy and can give an opponent energy and something to strive for. Albert has coached them well and they're well organised and they're fighting for their lives so nothing is going to be handed to us on a plate," he said.
"It was extra special for Kristoff coming off the bench to score his first goal and make a great impact. With all of those younger players, such as Aidan, Ilham, Addison and Kristoff, their raw abilities are there.
"We can see the qualities that they have but tactically they're very much a work in progress. The senior players hold them accountable to that and they are going through a huge learning process around that.
"Myself and the staff put the least amount of pressure on them but its important they understand how we want to play with and without the ball but also give them the platform to go out an express themselves," he said.
With Miramar Rangers now just one week away, Figueira is keen to get to work as soon as possible
"We chose to rotate one or two player and we've made sure we've got minutes in all the key players for the week coming.
"It's going to be an exciting week to prepare for us and going away always adds to that. We want to build momentum, confidence and anticipation. We're all relishing the prospect of going to Wellington for a big game," he said.
Saturday 24 July 2021
Auckland City FC 2 (Myer BEVAN 23', Kristoff MULLER 72')
AC: 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 12. Sam BROTHERTON (4. Mario BILEN 77'), 15. Aidan CAREY (11. Reid DRAKE 66'), 17. Andrew BLAKE, 19. Myer BEVAN, 20. Addison STEWART (22. Kristoff MULLER 66'), 23. Alfie ROGERS.
SUBS NOT USED: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 21. Ilham HAMEEDI.
COACH: José FIGUEIRA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GK COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
TEAM MANAGER: Keith COTON
S&C COACH: Adria CASALS
ANALYST: Jarrod WALLACE
ANALYST: Dan GORDON
Saturday 24 July 2021
Auckland United FC 7-0 Hamilton Wanderers
Eastern Suburbs AFC 0-0 Manukau United
Birkenhead United 7-1 North Shore United
Western Springs v Melville United
Bay Olympic 3-1 Northern Rovers
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium