June 8, 2023

Lautoka make history courtesy of strong away win

Marist and Lautoka could advance to the Oceania Champions League final for the very first time.

In the Solomon Islands, history would be made as both hosts Marist and Lautoka from Fiji could advance to the Oceania Champions League final for the very first time. In the end, the Fijians came out on top.

(Marist – Lautoka 0-1, aggregate: 1-2)

The Lautoka players celebrate the historic goal (Photo credit: OFC)

In front of 14 000 fans, Marist and Lautoka fought it out for a place in the Oceania Champions League final on Sunday.

After Team Wellington’s dethroning of Auckland City earlier in the day, it was the two Pacific sides turn to duke it out after the 1-1 result last time.

Chances aplenty but poor finishing

The home side started the brightest with several chances that troubled Beniamino  Mateinaqara in the Lautoka goal. But despite their numerous efforts, they couldn’t break the deadlock.

As the half progressed the chances kept coming from Marist but the accuracy fell considerably with many very good chances being put much too wide to be of any kind of difficulty for Lautoka.

Over in the second half, Lautoka came more on the front foot with several half-chances being turned away by the Marist defence and Anthony Talo, who was back after his head injury last time out.

Naidu the difference

Then the decisive moment fell.

A long throw-in was headed away by the Marist defence and recycled for a second cross by Lautoka. The ball fell to a wide open Praneel Naidu in the Marist box and he put his foot to the ball and guided it into the bottom corner.

That certainly woke Marist up but again, the poor finishing would be their downfall as chances from Fa’arodo and company went wide.

When a Fa’arodo free-kick was pushed over the bar by Mateinaqara in added time it seemed Marist knew it was over and Lautoka could ride off the final minutes.

Lautoka will now meet Team Wellington in the final. That will be held over two legs on the 12th and 19th of May.

The players thank each other for the match (Photo credit: OFC)

Watch the highlights here:

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