Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 8 January 2017
WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Auckland City FC have retained the Charity Cup after a 3-1 win over Stirling Sports Premiership champions Team Wellington today.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx paid tribute to his side who played 75 minutes with just ten men but still came away with maximum points at the home of the defending champions and the NZF Charity Cup.
"It was a bit rusty when you go down to 10 men after 20 minutes or so and playing into a strong wind.
"It was a very difficult game for us to play. The outcome was great we defended quite well.
"Team Wellington had a lot of the ball playing against 10 men but we prevented through balls pretty well. They didn't create a lot of chances especially in the second half.
"Full credit must go to our squad. We weren't flashy with either our fitness or our touch but we tucked in and were up for the battle.
"Its a trophy. Its the first trophy of the season so its great to win it again. There's always pressure to win trophies at Auckland City FC so this is welcome.
"Especially happy with the way the team played. Emotionally we have to emphasise our post Club World Cup approach with the players because it can be a challenge.
"But we can be pleased with the result, the way we played and the result we achieved in a difficult situation," he said.
The Navy Blues took the lead after a calamitous piece of defending by Team Wellington skipper Bill Robertson and goalkeeper Scott Basalaj allowed Ryan De Vries to tap home unchallenged on 12 minutes.
The match was turned on its head three minutes later when Fabrizio Tavano was shown a red card after he was adjudged to have fouled Joel Stevens.
From there, Team Wellington dominated the match as the Navy Blues were forced into a tactical reshuffle that saw Mario Bilen switch from midfield to defence.
Goalkeeper Enaut Zubikarai was once again a standout figure making key saves from Leo Villa, Joel Stevens and Niko Kirwan as the home side piled on the pressure.
Despite being hemmed into their own half for much of the match it was the visitors who added to their tally when De Vries broke clear then set up Emiliano Tade for the Navy Blues second with 21 minutes left on the clock.
The second goal shocked Team Wellington into action and they pushed the Navy Blues relentlessly as they chased a way back into the game. Nathaniel Hailemariam, a former Navy Blues player, got in behind the Auckland City FC defence but it was clear Team Wellington lacked a finish.
That all changed when substitute Ben Harris threw Team Wellington a lifeline when his cross to the backpost evaded all comers and ended up in the back of Zubikarai's net in the 85th minute.
It was just the third time Auckland City FC's net has been breached in 810 minutes of football but any anxiety Navy Blues fans had of their team dropping the points or the Charity Cup was ended when Darren White went down in the box and a penalty was awarded.
Tade beat Basalaj from the penalty mark two minutes into additional time to make safe top spot for the Navy Blues and at the same time hand them their fourth Charity Cup win in six years.
The victory also means Auckland City FC returns to the top of the Stirling Sports Premiership with a two point advantage over the nearest challengers and with a game in hand.
The 3-1 win was Auckland City FC's third consecutive win over Team Wellington to go alongside the OFC Champions League final (3-0) and last Stirling Sports Premiership (4-0) victories in April and October last year.
It is also the first time in the history of the competition the trophy has been successfully retained.
Stirling Sports Premiership/Charity Cup
Sunday 8 January, 2017
Team Wellington 1 (Ben Harris 85')
Auckland City FC 3 (Ryan De Vries 12', Emiliano Tade 69', 90+2'-pen)
Charity Cup Winners
2011 Auckland City FC
2012 Waitakere United
2013 Auckland City FC
2014 Team Wellington
2015 Auckland City FC
2016 Auckland City FC
Sun 28 Jan 2018, Links Ave, Tauranga, kickoff 435pm