Team Wellington power past AS Magenta to setup another final v Auckland City
Team Wellington and Auckland City will meet in a final for the sixth time in three years after powering past their OFC Champions League opposition.
Wellington were too good for a nine-man AS Magenta, winning 7-1 at David Farrington Park on Sunday for a 9-3 aggregate semifinal win, while Auckland were clinical against Tefana, winning 2-0 at Kiwitea St in Auckland for a 4-0 aggregate win.
It meant the teams would contest the final, which is two-legged this season, for the third-straight year. Auckland have triumphed in the previous two one-off finals to qualify for the Club World Cup.
Auckland also won the 2013-14 national league final against Wellington, but Wellington have won the last two national league finals in a row.
Jose Figueira, who is in his first year as Wellington coach, was well aware of the challenge posed by the home and away final, starting at Kiwitea St on April 29.
"The two legs make it a different ball game," Figueira said.
"One-off finals or semis can go either way on the day, but trying to maintain high quality performance over two legs is a challenge, but the boys have shown enough this year that they can step up to that.
"We've got to prepare and do our homework again, I'm sure they'll [Auckland] be eager to bounce back after the Stirling Sports Premiership final loss."
In the Wellington semifinal, New Caledonia's Magenta were greeted by a cold, wet Wellington southerly as the temperature plummeted at kickoff time.
The visitors were slow out of the gates and allowed a long ball to skid through their defence, which Joel Stevens latched onto and slotted past Magenta goalkeeper Steeve Ixoee.
Wellington were dominant through the opening 25 minutes, but failed to put away the host of chances they had.
They had been leaving Magenta winger Joerisse Cexome unmarked for most of the half and were made to pay for that in the 34th minute when he got on the end of a ball played in behind Justin Gulley to equalise.
But the game changed in the two minutes before halftime. First, Wellington captain Bill Robertson rose highest to head home a Leo Villa corner, then Magenta's Jean Brice Wadriako received his second bookable offence for a handball on the halfway line which stopped a promising Wellington attack.
Wellington asserted their authority in the second spell with a man advantage as goals to Tom Jackson and Andy Bevin killed the contest off with 26 minutes still to go.
The aim from there for the Wellington players was to not get suspended or injured as the Magenta players' frustration boiled over into reckless challenges.
Stevens and Nicholas Zambrano put their side further ahead before seven minutes from time Pierrot Jelewed was shown a straight red card for a wild challenge on Stevens which fortunately did not make serious contact with the Wellington winger.
Josh Margetts completed the rout in stoppage time with a great top-corner finish from the edge of the box.
"They're a difficult side to play against, their mobility, their pace, at times they are really unstructured and that makes it tough," Figueira said.
"We regained our focus in the second half and showed our quality and finishing prowess."
Auckland's goalscorers midway through each half were Emiliano Tade and Joao Moreira. That match also saw rash challenges from the Tefana players late on, with two red cards in stoppage time.
AT A GLANCE
OFC Champions League semifinals, leg two
Team Wellington 7 (Joel Stevens 7' 73', Bill Robertson 44', Tom Jackson 49', Andy Bevin 64', Nicolas Zambrano 70', Josh Margetts 90'+3) AS Magenta 1 (Joerisse Cexome 34'). HT: 2-1. Team Wellington win 9-3 on aggregate.
Auckland City 2 (Emiliano Tade 33', Joao Moreira 64') Tefana 0. HT: 1-0. Auckland City win 4-0 on aggregate.