Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 28 April 2019
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC bow out of the OFC Champions League at the semifinal stage for the second consecutive season following a 2-1 defeat to AS Magenta in Noumea tonight.
The Navy Blues came into the match having played just two competitive games in six weeks and the lack of edge took a heavy toll as two defensive errors cost Auckland City FC dearly.
The first saw Enaut Zubikarai slip then deliberately handle the ball outside his own penalty box to deny Nathanael Hmaen a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Referee David Yaroboinen consulted assistant referee Folio Moeaki then sent off the Spanish goalkeeper.
Dylan Manickum was replaced by goalkeeper Ruben Parker and his first job would be to pick the ball out of the net after Kevin Nemia lifted a powerful freekick over the ball that Parker could only deflect into the net.
Auckland City FC had a great shout for penalty when a Dan Morgan cross appeared to be handled by Mikael Tiaou but those pleas fell on deaf ears.
The match appeared headed for extra time until a seemingly inoccuous cross was miscontrolled by Jordan Vale allowing Jean Christ Wajoka to evade Vale and Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi before laying on a simple tap-in for Kevin Maitran with just two minutes left.
Auckland City FC rallied late and Fabrizio Tavano saw a long range shot hit the crossbar in additional time but AS Magenta hung on to record a famous victory and a place in the OFC Champions League final against compatriots Hienghene Sport on May 11.
Hienghene Sport - who earlier defeated defending champions Team Wellington 2-1 - or AS Magenta will now play each other for the Oceania title and a place at the FIFA Club World Cup 2019, although questions marks hang over the future of that tournament.
OFC Champions League Semifinal
Sunday 28 April 2019
AS Magenta 2 (Kevin NEMIA 45+4', Kevin MAITRAN 88')
Auckland City FC 1 (Micah LEA'ALAFA 41')
Enaut Zubikarai (AC) red card 45'
AC: 1. Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK), 5. Angel BERLANGA (c), 7. Cam HOWIESON, 8. Albert RIERA, 10. Micah LEA'ALAFA (21. Maro BONSU-MARO 70'), 11. Fabrizio TAVANO, 12. Dylan MANICKUM (18. Ruben PARKER (GK) 45'), 14. Jordan VALE (17. Reid DRAKE 89'), 15. Dan MORGAN, 19. David BROWNE, 20. Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI.
SUBS NOT USED: 2. Darren WHITE, 16. Yousif ALI, 22. Omar GUARDIOLA, 23. Alfie ROGERS.
COACH: Ramon TRIBULIETX.