Auckland City claimed their third NZFC premiership with an emphatic 3-1 victory over Canterbury United at English Park yesterday.
The win sees Auckland City claim the minor premiership with a game to spare and extends their unbeaten run to thirteen matches. If Auckland City can avoid defeat against YoungHeart Manawatu in their final match on 2 April, they will become the first ever NZFC club to go unbeaten in their regular season fixtures. They now enter the finals series looking to retain their championship.
Auckland’s unbeaten run was in danger when Canterbury United took the lead from a free-kick taken by Aaron Clapham in the 43rd minute after New Zealand midfielder, Chad Coombes, had been sent off for a second caution. The lead however lasted only two minutes when Jason Hayne seized on a defensive error to lash home the equaliser for his sixth NZFC goal of the season.
In-form striker Daniel Koprivcic scored past Canterbury goalkeeper Tom Batty with thirteen minutes remaining to put the visitors in front. Substitute Paul Urlovic then wrapped up the match and the premiership when he scored Auckland’s third goal in the 86th minute.
Meanwhile, Canterbury United – who needed a win to claim third place and a semi-final with Waitakere United – remains in fourth place and will now face Auckland City at English Park in the 1st leg of the semi-finals on 4 April with the 2nd leg scheduled for 11 April at Kiwitea Street. In the other semi-final, Team Wellington will host Waitakere United on 4 April with the return match at Fred Taylor Park scheduled for 11 April.