27 Feb 2017

Sport: Team Wgtn opens OFC Champions League campaign in style

11:03 am on 27 February 2017

Team Wellington have made an emphatic start to their OFC Champions League campaign, with the 2016 runners-up thumping newcomers Puaikura FC 4-1 in Kone.

Cook Islands champions Puaikura took a shock lead when Andre Estay converted an 18th minute penalty before the New Zealand title holders equalised courtesy of an own goal seven minutes before halftime.

Puaikura opened the scoring from the penalty spot.

Puaikura opened the scoring from the penalty spot. Photo: OFC / Alain Vartane

Nathanael Hailemariam put Wellington in front in first half injury time before Joel Stevens and a second to Hailemariam after the hour mark ensured a comfortable victory.

Captain Bill Robertson said it was important to get off to a good start.

"The result shows that we bounced back pretty quickly after conceding and I think throughout the game we've dominated possession and controlled the game, created a lot of chances," he said.

They've got a penalty [from a] contentious decision but we've got to accept that and we moved on and obviously created some chances, scored some goals and pretty pleased with the performance overall."

Nathanael Hailemariam scored twice for Team Wellington.

Nathanael Hailemariam scored twice for Team Wellington. Photo: OFC / Alain Vartane

Puaikura coach Kevin Fallon was relatively pleased with his side's effort against a team that has been to the last two OFC Champions League finals.

"I think as a club from a little nation for one they didn't disgrace themselves that's for sure," he said.

"I thought we kept fighting and the team did better really. They didn't stop they just kept going, took the early lead and it came down to maybe half an hour. So overall I am very pleased with them."

In the other Group B match-up, Fiji's Ba and host club Hienghène Sport battled to a 1-1 draw.

Malakai Tiwa struck a 90th minute equaliser for the visitors after Bertrand Kai scored from the spot in the 70th minute.

Ba and Hienghène Sport could not be separated in Kone.

Ba and Hienghène Sport could not be separated in Kone. Photo: OFC / Alain Vartane

Ba coach Imdad Ali said he had never given up hope that the equaliser would come.

"The boys were always pounding at the goal, so we knew it was always gonna come. It came a little bit late but it came and we're happy," he said.

"It was a good result and the boys played very well. It was great fast-paced football and I'm pretty happy with the performance of the boys."

Hienghène Sport coach Felix Tagawa was disappointed to let the win slip through their grasp.

"In the first half there were a few occasions when either side could have scored but the second half I thought was more Hienghene's half," Tagawa said.

"If I look just at their performance particularly in the second half then it's not a fair result."