Tahiti’s AS Venus and Central Coast from the Solomon Islands have qualified from Group A of the OFC Champions League as winner and runner up respectively.
AS Venus lost their final pool game 1-0 to Vanuatu’s Galaxy FC but had enough points to win the group.
Central Coast and Papua New Guinea’s Lae City fought tooth and nail in a five goal thriller with the Solomon’s team edging to a win and a place in the semi-final to face nine time champions Auckland City.
Here are the match reports:
Galaxy v AS Venus
A second-half rocket from Bong Kalo secured a win for 10-man Galaxy FC over AS Vénus.
The Port Vila-based side almost took an early lead when confusion at the back left Andre Batick with an opportunity which was well blocked by Kevin Barbe, with Kensi Tangis blasting over the follow-up.
Vénus meanwhile needed to avoid defeat by five clear goals to ensure they finished top of the group and Teaonui Tehau came close to giving them the lead, forcing Joshua Willie into a sprawling save.
A tame first period ended in disappointment for Galaxy, as they were reduced to ten men when referee CK Kawana-Waugh showed Batick a straight red card for a lunging challenge on Barbe.
Despite their precarious position, Galaxy were looking to earn some pride with a first win of the tournament and shocked the Tahitian side in the second-half. Kalo found himself in space 25-yards out before hitting a dipping strike beyond Teave Teamotuaitau.
Vénus captain Tehau then had two headed chances to pull his team level, clipping the crossbar with his first attempt before Willie’s starfish save kept his second effort out.
Central Coast v Lae City
A brace from Clifford Fafale and a goal from Junior Fordney in the first-half secured the win for Central Coast despite goals from Mathew David and Jonathan Allen for Lae City.
Central Coast took control early on with the dangerous Fordney causing the Lae City defenders trouble, as he did throughout the fixture.
His run in behind evaded the Lae City defenders before he poked home a smart finish from Alick Kitalo’s incisive through ball.
Fordney again proved the impetus for the game’s second goal, shrugging off Komolong before squaring for Fafale to place home a simple finish.
Fordney came close to stretching the lead before Lae City managed to reduce the deficit, David scoring from close-range after excellent work from Allen.
However, the narrow gap lasted less than a minute, as Central Coast went straight up the other end to regain their two-goal advantage, Fafale curling in from the edge of the box.
With Lae City needing a win to have any chance of progressing they pushed for goals in the second period allowing Jeffery Bule, Fordney and Fafale to all have chances to finish the game off for Central Coast.
Lae City then threatened to pull off a miracle turnaround as Allen flicked home a corner which led to a late onslaught but Central Coast held on.