Auckland City go down in opener

Auckland City are out of the FIFA Club World Cup Photo: David Joseph / www.photosport.nz

Auckland City were left to rue what might have been after going down 1-0 to Al Jazira in their opening game of the FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Despite dominating the match throughout – with 17 shots on goal compared to five for the United Arab Emirates champions – they exited the playoff stage of the competition for the third year in a row.

The Ramon Tribulietx coached side, who have been in irrepressible form in the ISPS Handa Premiership, continued that momentum on the big stage and were the dominant team at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain with 59 percent possession.

But they could not find the back of the net and were made to pay by Al Jazira who scored a quality goal in the 38th minute.

Striker Ali Mabkhout ran at the Navy Blues for the first time and looked to be closed down by defender Angel Berlanga. The ball found space and Romarinho was on hand to hit a wonderful strike from 25m out which gave keeper Enaut Zubikarai no chance.

It was one of two times that Zubikarai was called into action, at the other end Al Jazira’s keeper Ali Khaseif was busy throughout.

The six-time ISPS Handa Premiership champions had some good chances to get back on level terms or even win the game.

https://twitter.com/Gordon_Watson/status/938554048285937664

Young forward Callum McCowatt had the first of them after 30 minutes when he combined nicely with Ryan de Vries to find space in the box but his shot was comfortably saved.

Soon after halftime midfielder Cameron Howieson took a shot from the edge of the box which got the attention of the keeper.

But the best chance of the night came with 15 minutes to play. Howieson delivered a fine cross to forward de Vries in the goalmouth but the prolific striker hit it straight at the keeper.

Auckland City have been in exceptional form back home, scoring at will in the ISPS Handa Premiership to achieve a goal difference of 20, and they deserved to advance today but could not convert their chances.

FIFA Club World Cup
Al Jazira 1 (Romarinho 38′) Auckland City 0 HT 1-0

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