New king to be crowned as Auckland’s long reign ends
Team Wellington and Lautoka to meet in OFC Champions League final
Auckland City reigning champions since 2011
Winner of next month’s final to feature in FIFA Club World Cup
A new name will be engraved on the OFC Champions League trophy next month after a tense weekend of semi-final action saw Auckland City’s seven-year reign finally come to an end.
Team Wellington secured a 2-2 draw at Auckland City for an away goals victory, following a scoreless first leg.
Fiji’s Lautoka are the other finalists thanks to a lone second-half strike from Praneel Naidu, as Marist FC were edged in front of 12,000 fans in the Solomon Islands’ capital.
The headline drama was in Auckland as the FIFA Club World Cup regulars hosted Team Wellington, with the pair having met in each of the past three continental deciders.
Auckland’s City’s goalkeeper Enaut Zubikarai saw a remarkable 1079-minute run without conceding finally ended as Eric Molloy powered home a first-half header.
Incredibly, it was two in four minutes for the capital club as Angus Kilkolly netted from the penalty spot.
A deflected free-kick saw Emiliano Tade pull a goal back with 14 minutes remaining, and Scott Hilliar pushed the ball into his own net to draw the pair level on the day deep into injury time.
But there was to be no winner for the nine-time champions, whose seven-year reign as continental club champions set a world record.
Auckland City finished third at the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup with a play-off win over Mexico's Cruz Azul.
Lautoka will now meet Team Wellington in the home-and-away final visiting New Zealand’s capital on the weekend of 12 and 13 May, before welcoming their opponents to Churchill Park for the return leg a week later.
The winner will represent Oceania in the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.