City get win in first OFC match

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - ANDREWVOERMAN

Auck­land City have made a win­ning start to their OFC Cham­pi­ons League de­fence, but they left it late against Western United on Satur­day.

They needed two late goals to tri­umph 2-1 over the Solomon Is­lan­ders at Cen­tre Park in south Auck­land, but they got there, thanks to a Dar­ren White header and an Emil­iano Tade penalty kick, which came in the 86th minute.

The Cen­tre Park pitch ap­peared to be very heavy, which was no sur­prise given all the rain in Auck­land on Fri­day and Satur­day, and that didn’t par­tic­u­larly suit City’s tra­di­tional pass­ing game.

Western United had qual­i­fied as run­ners-up in the 2016 edi­tion of the Solomon Is­lands S-League, and they took the lead in the 39th minute, when James Naka fol­lowed up a free kick that had re­bounded off the post.

It took more than half an hour be­fore White con­nected with a Tade free kick in the 75th minute to bring the scores level, and City then chased hard af­ter a win­ner, re­ceiv­ing a boost when Nel­son Sale re­ceived a sec­ond yel­low card and was sent off, then an­other when Tade won the penalty.

Auck­land City next play Lae City on Wed­nes­day at Cen­tre Park, with kick off at 4pm for the match which will likely de­cide who tops the group and ad­vances to the semi­fi­nals.

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