Late winner seals vital win for Navy Blues

Words: ACFC Media

Wednesday 15 May 2024

Picture: Phototek

PAPEETE, Tahiti - A late goal deep into injury time courtesy of in-form forward Liam Gillion gave Auckland City FC a crucial 1-0 victory over Group A rivals Hekari United FC at the OFC Men’s Champions League on Wednesday afternoon (NZST) at Stade Paea.

Following a 2-all draw with Fijian outfit Rewa FC, the Navy Blues were eager to secure all three points against the Papua New Guinean champions who have opened their campaign with an impressive 2-0 win over Solomon Warriors.

Albert Riera’s charges showed plenty of intent from the outset, pressing high during the early exchanges, before the encounter settling into an even contest with just a couple of half-chances at both ends.

Gerard Garriga came the closest to scoring in the first half,  first flashing wide from an acute angle before lobbing the ball over Dave Tomare’s crossbar.

City ramped up the pressure after the break with Gillion forcing a fantastic save from Tomare with a well struck left-footed attempt.

Garriga called the Hekari custodian into action from the edge of the box in the 75th minute, before substitute Stipe Ukich went just inches wide of the post as the defending champions turned on the heat.

As the clock ticked over the 90-minute mark Tomare again produced a brilliant save to deny Garriga with an acrobatic aerial dive and Ukich narrowly missed the target just moments later. 

But there was still time for a late twist deep into injury-time with Garriga setting up Gillion for an easy tap-in from close range to secure three vital points for the Navy Blues in dramatic fashion.

Auckland City will face Solomon Warriors in their final Group A match on Saturday, 18 May with kick off at 1:00pm (NZST) and you can watch that game Live and Free on FIFA+ HERE

Ends

MATCH RESULT
OFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP A MD2
Wednesday 15 May 2024
Auckland City FC: 1 (Liam GILLION 90+3′)
Hekari United: 0

HT: 0-0

AC: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Christian GRAY (22. Tong ZHOU 46’),  7. Cam HOWIESON, (Tong ZHOU 79’) 8. Gerard GARRIGA,  10. Dylan MANICKUM, (27. Stipe UKICH 83’), 12. Regont MURATI, 16. Joe LEE, (Ryan DE VRIES 50’), 13. Nathan LOBO, 19. Liam GILLION, 25. Michael DEN HEIJER 

SUBS NOT USED: 24. Joe WALLIS (GK), 9. Angus KILKOLLY,  21. Adam BELL, 23. Alfie ROGERS

COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GK COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
TECHNICAL: Adria CASALS
LOGISTICS: Robin HAYTER
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE

OFC CHAMPS LEAGUE

Fri 17 May 2024, Stade Paea, Tahiti, 3pm local

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