Auckland City FC power their way to 12th OFC Men's Champions League title

May 25, 2024 4:35 pm

[Source: OFC Media via Phototek]

Auckland City FC have won the OFC Men’s Champions League for a record-extending 12th time after a 4-0 victory over Tahiti’s AS Pirae at Stade Pater in Papeete.

Albert Riera’s side, also looking to make it three triumphs on the spin, were in clinical form, scoring twice in the first-half to set them on their way in front a partisan home crowd.

It was the host nation side who started the brighter, with the energetic Désiré Ngiamba a constant menace to Auckland City down their left-hand side. Nathan Lobo was particularly troubled by Ngiamba, receiving a yellow card for a shirt pull as the full-back threatened to break free.

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As they have done so many times this campaign, the New Zealand side made it count when given their opportunities. Only 6 minutes were on the clock when Adam Mitchell nodded down Cam Howieson’s free-kick and Michael Den Heijer was on hand to side-foot in from yards out.

Pirae responded positively to the setback but for all their possession, were struggling to break down Auckland City’s well-drilled rearguard.

A moment of brilliance from midfielder Gerard Garriga doubled the defending champions’ lead on the half-hour mark. The Spaniard through ball split the Pirae defence, finding Liam Gillion and the winger made no mistake in rounding Francois Decoret and burying into the empty net.

The second period was only three minutes old when Auckland City put the result all but beyond doubt. Stipe Ukich – Player of the Match in his side’s semi-final victory over AS Magenta – cut in from the left, creating space for himself before deftly clipping a right-footed effort into the far corner to make it 3-0.

Just over ten minutes later and the champions added a fourth. Cam Howieson’s free-kick from the left flying over the grasp of Decoret in the AS Pirae goal and onto the head of central defender Christian Gray, who nodded home from a couple of yards out.

For all of their effort, AS Pirae continued to struggle in finding a way to test Conor Tracey in the Auckland City goal. Ngiamba continued to work hard, with an effort from just inside the box landing narrowly over the top of the bar.

Captain Alvin Tehau was next up to threaten, latching onto a deflected pass before hitting the outside of the post from a tight angle. Heirauarii Salem followed that up with a curled effort, fizzing just over the bar as the Tahitian side looked to give the home crowd something to cheer.

It wasn’t to be for Pirae, as Auckland City’s structure and intensity proved too difficult a barrier to break down – yet another sign of their champion credentials.

An incredible achievement for Auckland City, adding a 12th OFC Men’s Champions League title to their trophy cabinet, as well as securing a place in the inaugural FIFA Intercontinental Cup, to be played later this year.