TEAM Wellington will return to the OFC Champions League final to take on Auckland City for a third year in-a-row after dominating AS Magenta 7-1 in their second semi-final leg at David Farrington Park this afternoon.
The hosts were quick to gain the lead in the fast-paced match after Joel Stevens carried the ball into the box and fired near post in the 7th minute, but the New Caledonian club were next to score when Joerisse Cexome weaved through the Team Wellington backline and tapped the ball past goalkeeper Scott Basalaj to equalise.
A set piece before the half-time whistle gave the lead back to Wellington, with captain Bill Robertson getting his head to the corner ball and sending it over Steeve Ixoee’s hand and the New Zealand side entered the changing rooms confident about the second half after Jean Brice Wadriako received his second yellow card and was given his marching orders.
With only 10 men taking the field in the second half, Magenta were immediately under pressure from the fully armed hosts, and in the 49th minute Tom Jackson extended Wellington’s lead.
Shortly after, Andy Bevin and Nicolas Zambrano both profited from dangerous crosses to bring the tally up to five before Joel Stevens scored his second goal of the match.
The match turned even bleaker for AS Magenta in the last 10 minutes, with Jelewed Pierrot receiving a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on Stevens.
The nine New Caledonians struggled to hold off the Kiwis for the remaining minutes, allowing Joshua Margetts to squeeze in one more for Team Wellington in the third minute of injury time.
Despite the dominant 7-1 win, Team Wellington coach Jose Figuiera was impressed by the quick style-of-play displayed by both sides in their crucial clash.
“We’re really happy to make another final for the club. We found it tough and there were certainly some uncomfortable moments in that first half,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of players with a lot of speed and creativity, very fluid and often players pop up in different places so they’re a hard side to play against.
“We used our home advantage today. We got on the front foot and I’m really happy with the way we showed our quality and created lots of chances. We showed our worth as an attacking threat.”
Although he was very disappointed with the heavy defeat after holding Team Wellington to a 2-2 draw in last week’s semi-final, AS Magenta coach Alain Moizan believed the better side won on the day.
“It was a very difficult match, with a very young team. When we went down a player to ten, it became even more difficult for us,” he said.
“Team Wellington is a very organised side, very solid. I think they will have a chance against Auckland, they will be much closer.”