Words: ACFC Media
Friday 5 August 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC climbed to the top of Group B in the OFC Champions League with an impressive 5-0 win over 2019 Oceania champions Hienghene Sport today.
First half goals by Adam Mitchell, Cam Howieson and Dylan Manickum cemented a 3-0 half time lead before Liam Gillion and Mario Ilich added to the goal tally in the second half.
Albert Riera's side subjected Hienghene to the same first half pressure that they carried out against Dunedin City Royals in last Saturday's Chatham Cup game with City dangerous on the break and at set-pieces.
City continued their domination after the break with Ilich's stooping header giving him his sixth goal for the club while Gillion tapped home his first Champions League goal on the occasion of his debut in the competition.
The visitors hopes of repeating their feat of winning the Oceania title they lifted three years ago look unlikely based on this performance with coach Felix Tagawa without ten of his squad, many who chose not to take a vaccine and instead remain in New Caledonia.
Despite this setback, Hienghene created problems for City, particularly in the first half with Conor Tracey forced into a flurry of important saves to keep City's 2-0 lead intact.
There were several highlights during the game of historical note - Jordan Vale returned to action after injury and illness to make his 84th appearance while Manickum moved into eighth place in the club's list of all-time top scorers with 36 in 85 games.
Ahead of Manickum are Emiliano Tade (135), Grant Young (66), Ryan De Vries (63), the late Keryn Jordan (62), Paul Urlovic (51), Manel Exposito (46) and Joao Moreira (43).
Tade, who came on as a second half substitute, made his 204th appearance, which sees him leapfrog James Pritchett (203) on the list of most appearances.
Riera was delighted with an emphatic victory against a team that could have potentially caused his team problems.
"We've very happy it's always very important to start with a win in the first game of the competition.
"We had a lot of respect for Hienghene because they are the most recent champions and they have very experienced players.
"I thought we showed them a lot of respect and played a good game.
"Dylan has performed very well in the Northern League and the Chatham Cup and played very well.
"His confidence is very high and he's showing that in every game.
"He's a player who can play wide or in the pockets and he's very hard to mark and that's why he's done very well and that's why he's playing well.
"I said before the game that every team and every player has to adjust to the surface and you look for that in the first 10 to 15 minutes.
"It's a challenge to switch from grass to artificial and that's why we wanted to slow the tempo down a bit more so the players have a bit more time on the ball in case the bounce was different.
"I'm assuming as time goes by we'll get a bit more used to it but I thought we played well in the space left behind Hienghene and we're very glad in that regard," he said.
Auckland City FC's next match is on Monday against Fiji's Rewa in another 12.00pm NZDT kick-off.
OFC Champions League Group B
Friday 5 August 2022
Auckland City FC 5 (Adam MITCHELL 7', Cam HOWIESON 14', Dylan MANICKUM 38', Mario ILICH 48', Liam GILLION 88')
Hienghene Sport 0
AC: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL (5. Angel BERLANGA), 7. Cam HOWIESON (8. Gerard GARRIGA), 10. Dylan MANICKUM (20. Emiliano TADE), 11. Ryan DE VRIES, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 13. Nathan LOBO, 15. Aidan CAREY (14. Jordan VALE), 16. Joe LEE (19. Liam GILLION), 17. Reid DRAKE.
SUBS NOT USED: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 4. Christian GRAY.
COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GOALKEEPER COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
MANAGER: Keith COTON
ANALYST: Adria CASALS
TRAINER: Alejo LEGUIZAMON
TECHNICAL: Jarrod WALLACE
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
REFEREE: Norbert HAUATA
ASSISTANT REFEREE 1: Phillipe REVEL
ASSISTANT REFEREE 2: Folio MOEAKI
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Teremoana ROIHAU
FIFTH OFFICIAL: Pari OITO
Sunday 1 October 2023, 3pm, Kiwitea Street, Auckland