Teams in fi­nal de­spite not se­cur­ing wins

Central Leader - - SPORT - By JEREMY RUANE

Auck­land City FC and Am­i­cale will meet in the fi­nal of the OFC Cham­pi­ons League de­spite both teams be­ing un­able to win at the weekend.

Reign­ing cham­pi­ons Auck­land did it the hard way at Stade Pa­ter in Tahiti, and were grate­ful for hav­ing es­tab­lished the 3-0 ad­van­tage in last week’s first leg at Ki­witea St against AS Pi­rae.

The home side struck the vi­tal early goal they needed just four min­utes into the sec­ond leg from the boot of Jimmy Tepa.

That gave AS Pi­rae the boost they needed and five min­utes be­fore half­time they dou­bled their ad­van­tage through Naea Ben­nett to close within a goal of City.

But right on half­time Auck­land City drove a dag­ger through Tahi­tian hearts when Joao Moreira net­ted a price­less away goal mean­ing Pi­rae had to score three times in the sec­ond spell to deny City a record fourth suc­ces­sive grand fi­nal ap­pear­ance.

The task proved too much for AS Pi­rae, al­though it wasn’t for lack of try­ing.

Five min­utes af­ter Dar­ren White had been sent off for com­mit­ting his sec­ond book­able of­fence, Tepa had the ball in the net again, but his stop­page time ef­fort was ruled out.

That con­firmed City as 4-2 win­ners on ag­gre­gate, al­though they were beaten 2-1 on the night.

Am­i­cale booked their spot in the grand fi­nal by hold­ing off the chal­lenge from their Fi­jian ri­vals Ba at a sold-out Port Vila Mu­nic­i­pal Sta­dium match. Nei­ther team could find the back of the net with the game end­ing in a nil-all draw send­ing Am­i­cale to the fi­nal.

Am­i­cale will host the first leg of the fi­nal on Satur­day, with the sec­ond leg at Ki­witea St on May 18.

The win­ner over two legs will rep­re­sent Ocea­nia at the FIFA Club World Cup Fi­nals in De­cem­ber.

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