Auckland City have stormed into the OFC Champions League semi-finals after thrashing Malampa Revivors at Centre Park in Auckland on Saturday.
The Navy Blues made sure of their semi-final spot with ruthless efficiency as Ryan De Vries, Micah Lea’alafa and Joao Moreira tore through their opponents in a thumping first half.
Harry Edge, making a rare start, got himself on the score sheet when he headed home a Fabrizio Tavano cross as Auckland illustrated the sizeable gap between themselves and the competition debutants.
Going into the game, Western United had a slim chance of pipping the holders to first place in the group after they downed Lae City Dwellers 5-3 but only if Malampa could produce an upset.
That hope was proved mere fantasy as Auckland City scored goals at will, destroying Malampa Revivor’s preference for setting a high defensive line that was breached with many attacks.
The second half followed a similar vein with Moreira and De Vries completing hat-tricks, the latter adding a fourth to his personal tally after goalkeeper Jimmy Lukai bungled a backpass by Ismael Sam.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx rang the changes, opting to give brothers Danyon and Reid Drake a run with Mario Ilich also featuring. Reid Drake made the most of his opportunity by slotting home a fine strike to round off the 11-goal rout which created a new record for the biggest winning margin by Auckland City in the OFC Champions League, the former a 12-2 win over AS Mont Dore recorded in 2013.
Ramon Tribulietx was unsurprisingly happy with his side’s performance but added a warning to keep their feet on the ground.
“I think the first half was competitive, especially the first 25 to 30 minutes, and then after we went three-nil up they gave up but it’s understandable,” Tribulietx said.
“I think we played a good game and we kept our standards high. I’m very happy with the performance,” he added.
“It’s just one game. It doesn’t win anything. We need to move on and stay tuned up for what’s coming.”
Auckland join New Caledonia’s Magenta and New Zealand’s Team Wellington – winners of Group A and B respectively – in the semi-final draw, which will be conducted on Monday. Group D concludes later tonight in Papeete with hosts Tefana facing Marist for the remaining semi-final berth.
The draw for the OFC Champions League semi-final will feature Team Wellington, Magenta and one of either Marist Fire, Tefana or Erakor Golden Star.
Auckland City FC 11 (Joao Moreira 3, Ryan De Vries 4, Micah Lea’alafa 2, Harry Edge, Reid Drake)
Malampa Revivors 0