A Dylan Manickum header has helped Auckland City grab a 1-1 draw with United FC in their second warm-up game ahead of next week’s FIFA Club World Cup campaign.
The hosts, who play in the United Arab Emirates Pro League 1st Division, started the game aggressively and were rewarded when midfielder Baidy let rip with a superb long-range strike past Conor Tracey with just five minutes on the clock at the Dubai Sports City.
It took most of the first half for City to get to grips with a physical side that were strong, physical and fast, but once they did, they were at times unplayable, with midfielder Mario Ilich a dominant figure throughout.
Coach Albert Riera’s side almost drew level in unusual circumstances when a slick move involving Tong Zhou and Liam Gillion found Murati at the far post only for his deflected shot to cannon off Christian Gray’s head then over the crossbar.
City delivered a more authoritative performance in the second half and were immediately rewarded when a corner to the far post found Gray, whose downward header bounced above Maksim’s reach, allowing Dylan Manickum to head home from close range three minutes after the restart.
For Manickum, it was his fifth goal in his last seven club games and his 47th for the club, just four short of Angus Kilkolly and former All Whites striker Paul Urlovic, each on 51.
Dylan Manickum … scored from close range to level the score. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Riera’s side produced a string of good moments in transition including one sequence that involved Gerard Garriga, Emiliano Tade, Ryan De Vries, Murati and Angus Kilkolly before Joe Lee wrapped his shot off the left upright of goalkeeper Maksim’s goal frame.
City looked in full control but were nearly caught out by substitute Sissoko who zipped in behind the defence and whipped over a sharp cross only for Aidan Carey to hook clear at the back post.
There was time for Riera to hand a debut to goalkeeper Sebastian Ciganda, signed back in June from Waiheke United, while the match could’ve been won right at the last when Lee was sent clear only to steer a shot past the ‘keeper but the wrong side of the post right on the final whistle.
The Navy Blues leave Dubai on Thursday December 7 at 3.45pm and land in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at 6pm local time where they will take up a new training base before facing the host nation’s champions and star-studded Al-Ittihad five days later at the FIFA Club World Cup.
Acknowledgement: Match report details provided by Auckland City Media.
In their first warm-up game in Dubai, Auckland City drew 1-1 with United Arab Emirates side Al Dhaid, thanks to a late goal by Gerard Garriga.
Game played on Wednesday December 6, 2023 (NZT)
United FC 1 (Baidy 5′)
Auckland City 1 (Dylan Manickum 48′)
FIFA Club World Cup
Game to be played on Wednesday December 13 (NZT)
Al-Ittihad v Auckland City
King Abdulah Sports City Stadium, 7am (NZT)