26 Mar 2017

Team Wellington into football final

8:46 pm on 26 March 2017

The national football premiership final will be a repeat of last year's showdown between Auckland City and Team Wellington.

Team Wellington Celebrate a goal.

Team Wellington Celebrate a goal. Photo: Photosport

The national football premiership final will be a repeat of last year's showdown between Auckland City and Team Wellington after the latter defeated Waitakere United on penalties in a 12-goal thriller.

After an evenly-fought opening to proceedings, it was the visitors, Waitakere, who drew first blood in the 35th minute.

German striker Pascal Reinhardt got a slight touch on a free kick before the ball appeared to then be bundled home by an unfortunate defender as a pile of bodies flew in at the back post.

There was no doubt about the identity of the next goal-scorer as Wellington got back on level terms with Justin Gulley firing into the far corner on the stroke of half-time.

United re-took the lead five minutes into the second spell when Reinhardt headed in a perfectly-flighted cross.

It got even better for the west Aucklanders in the 66th minute when Dan Morgan chipped over Wellington goalkeeper Scott Basalaj.

At 3-1 down, the home side looked in danger but hit back through Nicolas Zambrano before a 75th minute penalty from Tom Jackson.

Waitakere struck back with Morgan finding the bottom corner from the edge of the area only for Jackson to slot another penalty in one of the last kicks of regular time.

In extra-time, Waitakere's Dylan Stansfield scored almost immediately before Joel Stevens made it 5-5 in the 113th minute.

Stevens then put his side in front for the first time only for Reinhardt to prod home Waitakere's sixth to take the contest into a penalty shootout.

That provided a stage for one of the two goalkeepers to become a hero and it was Basalaj who grasped that opportunity with both hands, pulling off a hat-trick of saves to give Nico Kirwan the chance to put Wellington through with the final spot kick.

Kirwan, the son of former All Black John, took up the invitation and duly converted to finally see off the challenge of Waitakere and give Wellington the chance to defend their title in Sunday's final at QBE Stadium in Auckland.

Team Wellington 6 (Justin Gulley 45', Nicolas Zambrano 68', Tom Jackson pen 75', pen 88', Joel Stevens 113', 118')

Waitakere United 6 (Own goal 33', Pascal Reinhardt 50', 120' + 1', Dan Morgan 66', 79', Dylan Stansfield 91')

HT: 1-1, FT: 4-4

Team Wellington win 3-2 on penalties.