2018 will be the year Oceania will have a new champion. That was decided on Sunday in Auckland as Team Wellington knocked out Auckland City.
(Auckland City – Team Wellington 2-2, aggregate: 2-2, Wellington win on away goals)
The 2018 Oceania Champions League will be remembered for quite some time. It marks the end of an era of Auckland City dominance, at least for now. For the first time since 2011 the team that has been in eight of the last nine O-League finals will not be there.
They are the team that has won seven continental titles in a row, more than any other on this planet They’ve won nine in total, only bested by the Galacticos of Real Madrid. And now, they… Will. Not. Be. There.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Oceania will have a new ruler
They lost it at home, at Kiwitea Street nonetheless. After a hard-fought 0-0 result in Wellington the week before it was now supposed to be their turn to have the upper hand. To have the backing of the crowd. To take the lead and hold onto it.
- READ MORE: Stalemate results in the first OFC Champions League semi finals leaves it all to play for in the second leg
And it started so well for Auckland, all the momentum seemed to be with the Navy Blues as they squandered one chance after the other.
But around halfway through the first half, they lost the control and Team Wellington took over. Some world class saves from Auckland keeper Eñaut Zubikarai kept Auckland in the game and it seemed eerily reminiscent of the first leg where nothing went in.
Until Eric Molloy appeared on the back post.
Andrew Bevin’s long cross found Molloy who sent the ball back into the corner it came from at a tight angle with a perfectly executed diving header. Team Wellington were 1-0 up. Now Auckland had to score twice.
Then Wellington got a penalty for a late lunge in the box after 40 minutes.
Angus Kilkolly stepped up. Started his run. And sent the ball down into the bottom left corner. Zubikarai was after it but the ball went just wide of his outstretched hand and now Auckland City had to score three times in 45 minutes to go through.
A glimmer of hope, but too little too late for Auckland
That was to prove an insurmountable task. Although not for the lack of trying. Auckland came out firing on all cylinders in the second half but they didn’t get their breakthrough until the 75th minute when a free kick from Emiliano Tade took a deflection in the wall and snuck past Scott Basalaj in the Wellington goal.
A glimmer of hope, but that was all it was for Ramon Tribulietx’s boys. Auckland got their second, but that was after six of eight added minutes when a cross was turned into the Wellington net by Team Welly defender Scott Hilliar.
That means that Team Wellington are in their fourth final in four years and on the other side a debutant will stand.
The final will be played over two legs on 12th and 19th of May.