Hekari United hung their shoes to Auckland City 2-0 in their 2012 O-League Group B clash at Kiwitea St in Auckland on over the weekend.
In the other Matches Waitakere United thrashed Ba (Fiji) 4-0, Amicale FC (Vanuatu) beat Koloale(SI) 2-0
Hosts Auckland managed to bag the win in the second half with goals from Manel Exposito and Emiliano Tade. Auckland won 2-0.
Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx was happy to make it two wins from two but gave full credit to a well-organised Hekari side.
“It was definitely a tough test for us. They’re a very good team and you can tell that they won the competition two years ago and have the experience of playing at a Club World Cup,” said Tribulietx.
Hekari’s best chance came in the 35th minute when Taniela Waqa’s long range strike sailed just over the crossbar.
Opportunities were at a premium in the first half as the home side battled into a strong wind. Exposito hit the side netting in the 10th minute but it was on the half hour mark that he should have opened the scoring when City earned a penalty courtesy of a Pita Bolatoga handball. But the Spanish born striker could only hit the ball straight at Leslie Kalai, who then saved Albert Riera’s follow-up shot from a tight angle. Referee Rakesh Varman from Fiji pulled out four yellow cards as he took control of the game with his cautions to players for infringement.
Papua New Guinea visitors embraced themselves for a strong challenge and they made sure they proved a point.
Auckland were forced to work hard as Hekari dug deep to tirelessly defend their goal mouth.
Auckland City players were smiling all over the football pitch with their ball possession but sooner they were left pinching themselves as the little generals from PNG kept them at bay. It wasn’t easy at the Auckland players thought.
Hekari defenders played a blinder in the first half
Auckland was agitated. Auckland led by Captain Ivan Vincelich could not carve out their chances.
Most of the play was taking place in the middle of the park as each side attempted to gain a stronghold in the game.
Hekari’s midfielder David Muta and Aucklands midfielder David Mulligan were at the helm, cutting out their tactical ploys but then again scramble defence from both teams denied each other.
Hekari striker Kema Jack nearly put his team infront but the flags were raised for being offside.
Both teams were into the sheds scoreless.
In the second half Hekari kept their cool while Auckland was more determined.
Hekari tried to make inroads using their flanks but they were no opportunities.. Hekari were denied another penalty claim before Dunadamu’s 83rd minute strike was somehow deflected away by All Whites defender Ivan Vicelich.
Coach Jerry Allen was left to ponder what might have been.
“I think we were close to getting a penalty and that would have put us right back in it,” said Allen.
And it was in the 49th minute that Auclkand’s Exposito broke the deadlock in style when he bended a perfectly-placed shot into goalkeeper Leslie Kalai’s bottom left corner from the edge of the area. The match was evenly poised heading into the final 20 minutes but a mistake by Hekari substitute Ian Yanum let in Emiliano Tade who took his chance well from 25 yards.
Hekari sensing defeat retaliated with their quick plays and short passes. They had opportunities but their strikers were off target.
Auckland sensing Hekari’s fight back went for substitution.
Hekari’s near miss came when Koriak Upaiga made his way past several challenges to break into the Auckland box but his last touch was too heavy and he lost possession before he could shoot.
Auckland maintained their composure and soon found themselves with another goal
Auckland got further in front when substitute Tade picks up a loose ball on the edge of the box and hits a low effort past Kalai.
Auckland hung on and denied last minute raid from Hekari to win 2-0.
In a game with few chances, Tribulietx says he was pleased to secure the three points.
“The first half I think we dominated the game but didn’t really threaten. The second half they were probably the better team but we concentrated on defending and were fortunate to get those two goals, so at the end of the day it’s a good win.”
“But overall I’m happy with the performance, and I’m confident we can win the return match back in Port Moresby next year.” Hekari coach Jerry Allen said.