December 7, 2023

Warriors nearly pull off upset. Suva secures solid win

Solomon Warriors Bata Furai and Auckland City FC’s Liam Gillion. (Photo: Shane Wenzlick/Phototek/OFC Media)

It was an exciting first matchday of the OFC Champions League.

In the opener, Solomon Warriors from the Solomon Islands took a surprise early lead against tournament favourites Auckland City from New Zealand.

A shot from Molea Tigi deflected off an Auckland player and went in, after only nine minutes of play.

It was the Warriors who would lead into the break, but only a few minutes into the second half goalkeeper Timothy Maearasia got himself sent off for a challenge inside the box, giving Auckland a penalty.

Angus Kilkolly duly converted, and with ten men for half an hour, the Warriors eventually gave in.

In the 77th minute, Spaniard Gerrard Garriga pounced and put Auckland in front, before Ryan De Vries gave Auckland a 3-1 cushion, five minutes later, to seal the result.

Suva in front

In the other game in Group A, Fiji’s Suva proved to much for Samoan qualifier winners Lupe Ole Soaga.

Two goals in three minutes after a scoreless first half hour saw Suva take a 6-0 victory against Lupe, who were reduced to 10 men for nearly two thirds of the match.

Lupe Ole Soaga FC’s Vaa Taualai in a duel with a Suva player. (Photo: Shane Wenzlick/Phototek/OFC Media)

Following Suva’s second goal after 34 minutes, some of the Lupe players didn’t like the Suva celebrations and Lawrie Letutusa was booked for the second time and sent off for his reaction.

An own goal just before the break saw Suva in full control, and they added another three on the other side of the half time mark, to win 6-0 and take the front seat in Group A after the first matchday.

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