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Auckland United Overcome Battling Tafea FC To Book Place In Final

Auckland United will face off against Hekari United in the final of the OFC Women’s Champions League 2024 following a dramatic extra-time victory over Tafea FC in an encounter high on drama and tension at the National Stadium in Honiara.

Auckland were back to a full strength starting eleven, although they were rocked by an injury to forward Bree Johnson during the warm up, with Pia Vlok coming in to fill the gap at short notice.

Auckland’s defence was largely disciplined and organised, keeping Tafea’s stars quiet as both sides worked their way into the match..

Just ten minutes were on the clock when the New Zealand champions got themselves in front. Talisha Green bravely heading home with a bullet header following an excellent corner delivery from Danielle Canham.

The closest Tafea came to securing an equaliser in the first half was via tournament top goalscorer Jane Alatoa, whose majestic run through Auckland’s midfield and defence deserved a goal. United’s goalkeeper Amberley Hollis was on hand, reacting quickly to push the Vanuatu international’s shot wide, in an otherwise relatively quiet half for the stopper.

Shortly before the cooling break, Wasi nearly added a second, latching on to a perfectly weighted through ball from Penny Brill, but her shot rippled the wrong side of the net.

While Auckland United went searching for a second goal, Tafea goalkeeper Netty Kalsau was a considerable factor in keeping her side in the contest, making a very good save on the stretch to deny Wasi from a header.

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As the half wore on, Tafea seemed most likely to find an equaliser from a moment of magic from Alatoa or Sine, although as the game went on the pair became increasingly isolated up top as Auckland United cut off the Vanuatuan side’s supply lines from midfield.

When the leveller did come, it was via a substitute, having only just arrived on the field. Liyao Eramol acrobatically connected with a scissor kick, burying the ball past Hollis in the Auckland United goal and sparking huge celebrations from team mates and fans alike.

Tafea’s tails were up, and Alatoa had the chance to snatch the win after escaping the attentions of Greer MacIntosh, only for Hollis to push the ball away for a corner.

With penalties on the horizon, the opportunity to win the match fell to Danielle Canham, timing her run perfectly and having the simple task of side-footing into an unguarded net after team mate Piper O’Neill’s low cross from the by-line.

The Kiwi side will now turn their attention to this weekend’s final and a date with Papua New Guinea giants Hekari United at the National Stadium.

Auckland United: 2 (Talisha GREEN 10’, Danielle CANHAM 104)
Tafea FC: 1 (Liyo ERAMOL 82)

HT: 1-0

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