|Auckland and Amicale start with a win. Photo OFC via Phototek|
Auckland City appeared to find their feet in the match a little quicker than their opponents with a string of early pressure in the first 20 minutes. Solomon Warriors weren't without their own chances on the break, with Molea Tigi and Dennis Ifunaoa among those giving Auckland City keeper Diego Rivas something to keep him occupied.
While the Solomon Islands' champions didn't enjoy much possession, they did enough to keep their opponent scoreless going into the break, and for a further ten minutes after the restart.
However, it was around this time that Auckland City really hit their stride as Daewook Kim headed home an Emiliano Tade cross to break the Warriors resistance. A couple of key changes in the form of Ryan De Vries and Joao Moreria proved the difference as the strike duo combined to wreak havoc on the Solomon Warriors defence.
Moreira was on hand to put a cut back from Takuya Iwata into the back of the net in the 74th minute which he followed up ten minutes later with a tidy finish after beating goalkeeper Anthony Talo in a one-on-one.
The Portuguese striker sealed the victory and secured his hat-trick in the final minute of play when he connected with a cross from Nicolai Berry.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx admitted the break between the national league concluding and the Champions League commencing played a part in his side's lethargic start to a competition they usually dominate.
"It’s always difficult to play a first game and we haven’t played for three weeks and I think we felt that a bit in the first half,” Tribulietx says.
“The second half we were a little bit more clinical with the ball and finally we manged to score the first goal and the game was more in our hands.
“I thought it was a tough game to be fair on the Solomons, they were very physical, difficult to break down in the first half and it’s good to get the first game out of the way.”
Solomon Warriors coach Moses Toata was disappointed with the performance from his side but not the effort, saying the gap between the S-League and the Champions League is difficult to bridge.
"For me it’s a disappointing loss for the team, very disappointing. I think the boys are lacking some physical fitness. In the first half we were ok, trying to hold them out, but in the second-half fatigue set in.
“For me, those first two were very cheap goals and we should learn from this and do better for the next one.
“My positives from today’s game is that although we conceded four goals, we still created some opportunities and hopefully the knowledge we got from the game we can use going forward.”
In the day's late match Lae City Dwellers were given a swift introduction to life in the big leagues by the determined Amicale outfit representing Vanuatu.
Since their glorious run to the final in 2014 Amicale haven’t enjoyed quite the same success but they appear to have rediscovered that winning formula today.
Amicale applied pressure from the outset with a high frontline consisting of former Auckland City striker Adam Dickinson, Kensi Tangis and Diego Nadaya. With skipper Fenedy Masauvakalo sitting just in behind them, the quartet took to peppering the goal, putting goalkeeper Ronald Warisan to work early on.
The debutants found their feet somewhat about 20 minutes into the match and pressed forward with some rapid counter attacks from Raymond Gunemba and Nigel Dabinyaba putting Mauro Boerchio under pressure.
The power of Dickinson and the direct style of play they adopted made it difficult for the Dwellers defenders who struggled to maintain the pace of the game adopted by their experienced opponents.
In the end Dickinson was the first to break down the defence with a close-range effort. He followed it up ten minutes later as he finished a cut-back from Octav Meltecoin.
Comfort for Amicale came in the 81st minute when Nadaya found himself open to receive in the box before smashing home Amicale’s third and final goal for the evening.
Amicale coach Mauro Bertoni says with the first game comes a lot of pressure which he thought his side dealt with well.
“In the first 20 minutes especially we were a little bit nervous but after the first goal we started to play our football and we had a chance to score a lot of goals,” Bertoni says.
“Unlucky we only scored three but its ok, we won. Now the guys need to rest and get ready for the next game.”
While the result wasn’t what they wanted, for Lae City Dwellers coach Peter Gunemba it wasn’t too poor a performance for a debut at this level.
“For us we accept losing because when we look at the Vanuatu team it has players from all over the world. They have world class players, professional players and for my players to play such good football against them is quite something.
“I thought we played well but there were some breakdowns in defence where we didn’t mark their strikers and that’s where they managed to score.”
Group A return to action on Wednesday 13 April, but the 2016 OFC Champions League will continue tomorrow when AS Magenta take on AS Tefana, before Kiwi FC and Nadi FA play each other.
Story courtesy of OFC. For more on the OFC Champions League visit www.oceaniafootball.com