The OFC Champions League 2022 has started in Auckland, New Zealand and the top clubs from the region are battling it out for club supremacy.
The tournament kicked off with matches in Group A where Vanuatu’s Galaxy FC and Papua New Guinea’s Lae City played to 2-2 draw.
Tahiti’s AS Venus beat Central Coast from the Solomon Islands 3-0.
Here are the match reports:
AS Venus v Central Coast
A tremendous hat-trick from Teaonui Tehau has earned AS Vénus a 3-0 win over Central Coast.
AS Vénus captain Tehau scored 50 goals across league and cup games in the recently concluded Tahiti domestic season and he demonstrated his ruthless streak early on.
A poorly placed free-kick from David Supa gifted the ball to the Vénus skipper, who hit a swerving 30-yard strike beyond Phillip Mango in the Central Coast goal.
Just four minutes later and the 29-year-old was given another chance to showcase his clinical edge.
This time it was from the penalty spot, after Tauhiti Keck’s driving run was brought to an abrupt end by Freddie Kini, with Tahiti’s record scorer slotting home his second goal from 12-yards.
After recovering from the early shellshock Central Coast, playing in their first ever OFC Champions League, started to threaten.
Clifford Fafale, the hero of Central Coast’s National Playoffs win over Solomon Warriors, nearly punished Vénus goalkeeper Teave Teamotuaitau for poor play while Jeffery Bule and Supa also came close just before the break.
Central Coast’s impressive end to the first-half was however rendered meaningless less than a minute into the second period as Tehau secured his hat-trick in style with a sumptuous pivot and finish.
Junior Fordney entered the fray for the Honiara-based side and his pace off the bench caused problems, Teamotuaitau having to be smart to block his near-post attempt.
Alick Kitalo then came close at the back post as Central Coast went chasing a much-needed goal.
But Central Coast’s efforts were in vain as Vénus saw out a well-deserved 3-0 triumph.
With this win Vénus move into top spot in Group A and will hope to secure a place in the semi-finals when they take on Lae City FC on Sunday.
Central Coast will challenge Galaxy FC on the same day, looking to get their first points on the board.
Galaxy FC v Lae City FC
Vanuatu’s Galaxy FC and Papua New Guinea’s Lae City FC have battled out an entertaining 2-2 draw.
Two own goals in the first-half at Ngahue Reserve and goals from Kensi Tangis and Jonathan Allen in the second period meant the points were shared in the Group A fixture.
The opening match of the tournament started scrappily but after both teams adapted to the playing surface at the OFC Home of Football the game sprung into life in chaotic fashion.
Lae City first had a golden opportunity to take the lead but Alwin Komolong’s headed effort ricocheted off the post before Galaxy goalkeeper Joshua Willie produced a remarkable reaction save to push away Bruce Tiampo’s follow-up.
Galaxy punished Lae City’s inability to take their chance moments later. Andre Batick’s cross was fired back across goal by Joe Moses, cannoning off Lae City defender Felix Komolong into his own net.
Galaxy’s advantage did not hold for long as they swiftly returned the favour of an own goal to their opponents. Simon’s dangerous corner-kick delivery evaded the Galaxy goalie before bobbling in off the helpless Dondy Kileteir.
Just before the break Lae City thought another own goal had given them the lead, after Willie flapped Bika’s cross into his own net. However, the match officials judged the ball to have already gone out of play.
Galaxy came out firing in the second-half and their increased intensity had an immediate pay off.
The impressive Tangis again used his pace and power to shrug off both his markers before touching a delicate right-foot finish beyond Lae City stopper Ronald Warisan.
Tangis and Moses then tested Warisan again but it was the mercurial Willie in the Galaxy goalmouth who continued his topsy-turvy performance to maintain the lead.
This time he prevented Felix Komolong a chance at redeeming his first-half own goal, blocking the PNG international defender’s header in stunning fashion.
The Galaxy goalkeeper came to the rescue again five minutes later after Lae City were awarded a penalty, denying Lae City captain Emmanuel Simon from the spot-kick.
However, Lae City did get their equaliser, Jonathan Allen slotting home after a breathtaking move from Bob Morris’s side.
Galaxy had a chance to win in added time but substitute Jack Vira hit his effort straight at Warisan with both sides having to settle for a draw in the opening game of the OFC Champions League 2022.
Both teams will be back in Group A action on Sunday, August 7, with Galaxy facing the Solomon Islands’ Central Coast FC while Lae City will take on Tahiti’s AS Venus – with their opponents in action later today in Group A’s other opening fixture.