Auckland City started its road to the FIFA Club World Cup with a 4-1 win over Hong Kong Rangers this morning.
Two goals by Joao Moreira and one each for Dae Wook Kim and Clayton Lewis cancelled out a goal by Hong Kong Rangers Spanish import Nando Recio.
Kim opened the scoring with a brilliant glancing header on 17 minutes after good build-up work by Micah Lea’alafa and Darren White.
The Navy Blues dominated possession with Albert Riera and Mario Bilen both in good form.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx made good on his promise to make multiple substitutions and handed a first team debut to 18-year-old Sean Cooper who came on for White.
Ryan De Vries and Moreira replaced strikers Nicolai Berry and Emiliano Tade and it didn’t take long for the De Vries-Moreira partnership to flourish.
Moreira’s first meaningful contribution saw him fire a right-foot volley off the underside of the crossbar just four minutes after the restart.
Angel Berlanga then teed up Moreira for a second chance just minutes later and it was one the Portuguese striker took full advantage of, hitting a low shot past goalkeeper Yu-Ming Chiu.
Hong Kong Rangers struck back immediately by capitalising off a long throw-in courtesy of Nando Reciu on 54 minutes.
But Moreira restored the Navy Blues’ two-goal cushion when he finished off a slick move started by Bilen who sent Takuya Iwata clear to provide a pinpoint cross.
It could’ve been a hat-trick for Moreira when De Vries lofted in a beautiful cross for his team-mate but Chiu denied him with a good one-handed save.
Moreira eventually turned provider when he latched onto a delightful De Vries through ball before picking out Lewis who hit a controlled volley into the roof of the net midway through the second half.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx was happy with the performance after a long journey and felt it kept his team on track for the challenge that awaits in Japan.
“The performance was more important than the result,” he said.
“We wanted to give players the opportunity to get the travel out of their legs and that was our objective. It was good for us to experience scoring a few goals against what was a decent side. It’s become a bit difficult for us in the Stirling Sports Premiership lately so that was positive.”
Auckland City now move on to Japan where their next match is another friendly with J.League 3 side SC Sagamihara on Friday.