Auckland City into Club World Cup after clinical OFC CL final second leg performance
Auckland City have booked their place at the Club World Cup for the seventh year in a row.
They were at their clinical and resolute best when beating Team Wellington 2-0 in Sunday's OFC Champions League final second leg against Team Wellington at David Farrington Park, completing a 5-0 aggregate win.
Auckland soaked up all of the Team Wellington pressure through the first half and hit them on the counter early in the second through Ryan de Vries.
Wellington captain and centre back Bill Robertson could only flick on a long ball into de Vries' path in the 63rd minute before the striker calmly finished past Scott Basalaj.
There was no way back for Wellington from there as they needed five goals to win the final. They battled on well, but were unable to fashion any real clear-cut chances.
The final was well and truly finished off when Emiliano Tade scored in the 76th minute. He received a layoff from de Vries on the left edge of the box and curled a sumptuous finish to the top-right corner.
Auckland coach Ramon Tribulietx said the key over the two legs was matching Wellington's physicality, especially during set pieces.
"In those situations where they benefit from those long balls and their second phase, especially the second phase where they've been strong all year, we needed to be very aware what was going to happen and we needed to be physical because that's how they change the games in their favour. From that they can score.
"I think we did that over both games very well, there were two or three set pieces that they managed to head but we were in contact in there, we were very physical as well."
The pattern of the game was setup in the first half, which saw Wellington play with a back four.
It meant a more direct approach from the hosts as Robertson sought out Ben Harris and Tom Jackson up front with an aerial bombardment.
Auckland were happy to sit back and force Wellington to take the game to them with their 3-0 advantage from the first leg.
"They changed their setup and played a back four, they obviously thought after the first game that they had to change something," Tribulietx said.
"In the other games we've played against Wellington they've left a front three and man-marked our centre backs and our holder, which means you can't really circulate your ball along the back but they're giving you a lot of space in behind with that back three.
"That's what we decided we were going to do. It didn't work out in the final of the national league, but in the first game and this game it was the same thing, no risks at the back, because that would've been stupid, and then try and hurt them on the counter, which we achieved."
Aside from the odd Wellington half chance they looked comfortable and assured in their lead as Angel Berlanga and Daewook Kim dealt with the long balls well.
A head clash midway through the half saw Wellington's Taylor Schrijvers and Auckland's Joao Moreira replaced, with the latter looking decidedly worse for wear and heading for the ambulance as halftime drew near, although the returned to collect his winner's medal.
Wellington started the second half brightly with a few headed chances, but understandably lost a lot of their impetus after the two goals went in.
It condemned Wellington to their third runner-up finish in Oceania's showpiece club even in as many years, although it was the first for Wellington coach Jose Figueira, who said they had lost to a better side across the two legs.
"You're playing against a side who have immense quality and pounce on any lapses of concentration or mistakes.
"I was really proud of the way we started the game today and against a top side you need to take those one or two chances that appear and that might have put a little bit of pressure on them.
"It's been a good season and I think we've shown enough that we're heading in the right direction."
AT A GLANCE
Auckland City 2 (Ryan de Vries 63', Emiliano Tade 76') Team Wellington 0. HT: 0-0. Auckland win 5-0 on aggregate.