Auckland City survive scare against 10-man Warriors to win tournament opener

A strong second-half performance against a 10-man Solomon Warriors side has seen Auckland City win their opening match at the OFC Champions League tournament in Vanuatu.

Trailing 0-1 after 50 minutes, the Navy Blues needed a penalty and two late goals to win the pool game 3-1 at Luganville.

The game-changing moment came when Warriors goalkeeper Timothy Maearasia made a rash challenge on City midfielder Gerrard Garriga, charging into him with an upraised boot.

The incident saw Maearasia sent off and lengthy treatment to Garriga before City’s Angus Kilkolly levelled the score 1-1, scoring from the resulting penalty.

Till then, the Warriors had given themselves a chance against the title-holders, after taking an early lead.

Before a crowd of 5,000, the Warriors opened the scoring through a strike from Molea Tigi that benefitted from a deflection, giving City goalkeeper Conor Tracey little chance.

Though City dominated possession, the Solomon Islanders were well organised in defence and were patient.

At half-time, it was clear the Aucklanders would need to call on their experience to overhaul the Warriors who were getting the support of the Vanuatu crowd.

Instead, the red card changed the game.

Once City were level, they wore down the Warriors’ resistance and took the lead in the 77th minute when Garriga scored from an acute angle.

Main photo: Garriga (8) rejoices after scoring his goal.

Five minutes later, substitute Ryan De Vries settled the contest with a diving header when left unmarked in the Warriors’ six-yard box.

Garriga was named Player of the Match.

Watch the match


Game played on Sunday May 14, 2023

Auckland City 3 (Angus Kilkolly 55′ pen, Gerrard Garriga 77′, Ryan De Vries 82′)
Solomon Warriors 1 (Molea Tigi 9′)

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Starting line-ups

Auckland City’s starting line-up. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Solomon Warriors starting line-up. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.Fixtures

Auckland City’s next pool games:

Game to be played on Wednesday May 17, 2023

Suva FC v Auckland City
Luganville, 4pm (NZT)

Game to be played on Saturday May 20, 2023

Lupe Ole Soaga v Auckland City
Luganville, 1pm (NZT)

More about the tournament

READ MORE: Game schedule released for May’s OFC Champions League tournament >>>>

READ MORE: Our previous stories about the OFC Champions League >>>>

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