19 Apr 2015

Auckland City into semi-finals

7:21 pm on 19 April 2015

Defending champions Auckland City have advanced to the semi-finals of football's Oceania Champions League following a 3-nil win over Vanuatu's Amicale in Suva.

Auckland City players celebrate a goal.

Auckland City players celebrate a goal. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Navy Blues started the match knowing a draw would be enough to ensure passage to the last four and set-up a rematch with last year's runners-up Amicale on Tuesday.

But Auckland put their foot to the floor from the first whistle, scoring three unanswered goals, goals that tipped Amicale out of the competition on goal difference.

Joao Moreira opened the scoring when he vollied home from close range after just three minutes.

The Portuguese striker then missed a good chance to double the tally midway through the second half when he sidefooted wide with the target begging.

Moreira made up for it with a brilliant second in a goalmouth melee then capped off a fine individual performance with a third shortly before he was withdrawn as the match descended into a free for all.

The match itself was marred by two red cards - one for Rajit Shala, Amicale's skipper, the other perplexingly for Aucland's Darren White, who appeared to be the victim of a headbutt.

Both benches emptied into a melee in the tunnel as both Shala and White departed the scene.

Auckland City FC's win - their third of this competition - allowed FC Gaitcha to sneak into the semifinals after they defeated Lupe Ole Soaga 8-1 in Ba earlier in the day.

The New Caledonians now face Auckland City FC on Tuesday, the first time a club from their country has made it this far in 10 years.

Coach Ramon Tribulietx was proud of his team as they warded off an aggressive Amicale side who were fortunate not to have more players sent off.

"I'm proud of the way the team reacted to the match. We're used to playing aggressive sides and we kept our heads tonight."

"We have a good squad of 23 players and we'll recover from this before we start thinking about FC Gaitcha and the semifinal," he said.

Auckland City FC face FC Gaitcha in the OFC Champions League semifinals on Tuesday the 21st of April in Suva at 3.30 pm.

Following that match, Team Wellington meet Fiji's Ba in the second semi-final at the same venue at 7pm.

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