City come close to club world cup win
A stoppage-time strike ended Auckland City’s Club World Cup dreams in Morocco last week as they were edged out 2-1 by home champions Raja Casablanca in front of 35,000 fans.
City were very much second best during the first half of the December 11 match.
The Navy Blues found themselves beating a hasty retreat after Mohsine Moutaouali split the defence with a pass to Mouhssine Iajour.
The striker was denied by the legs of City keeper Tamati Williams.
Auckland came back at their opponents with Chris Bale getting past central defender Ismail Benlamalem moments before Roy Krishna was denied at close quarters by Zakaria El Hachimi.
Just before halftime the host nation’s team broke the deadlock following a free kick.
Passes from Kouko Guehi and Adil Karrouchy opened up City’s defence and Iajour fired the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Five minutes into the second spell, only the post denied Casablanca a second goal.
It was a welcome wake-up call for Auckland, who proceeded to dominate the next 20 minutes of play.
City’s chance came in the 63rd minute when Roy Krishna found himself near the centre circle with just three Casablanca defenders to get past.
The trio converged on Krishna and then comically collided in bizarre fashion, leaving the striker with a free run at goal.
Krishna scored and, as a result, Auckland drew level.
From then on, it was a rearguard action from City with defenders Angel Berlanga, Ivan Vicelich and Mario Bilen all featuring prominently as Casablanca looked for a late winner.
Casablanca broke Auckland’s hearts with a 92nd minute winner from Abdelilah Hafidi just as extra time appeared likely.
Auckland City are returning home with $604,800 prizemoney for again finishing seventh at FIFA’s annual gathering of the world’s champion clubs. The team will be picking themselves up for an ASB Premiership encounter with Hawke’s Bay United at Kiwitea St on Sunday.