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AS Pirae Hold Off Spirited Ifira Black Bird To Claim Second Win

Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

AS Pirae have made it six points from six at the OFC Men's Champions League 2024 in Tahiti, seeing off a strong display from Vanuatu's Ifira Black Bird.

Travel disruptions meant that Ifira only landed in Tahiti the evening prior and with only eleven players in their match day squad.

Any fatigue or tightness brought about from an elongated journey to Papeete was in short supply early on, as the Vanuatu representatives flew out of the blocks - looking dangerous on the break as AS Pirae held a high line.

The breakthrough came early on but it was the Tahitians that found it. Yohann Tihoni letting fly from 25 yards, his effort flying into the top corner at the near post of Dick Sablan's goal.

AS Pirae made the most of the momentum shift, adding a second four minutes later when Désiré Ngiamba's effort from outside the box following a short corner was deflected in via Etienne Tave.

Despite the challenging circumstances, Robert Yelou's side dragged themselves back into the contest - Kerry Iawak picking up a loose ball after a probing run from teammate Johnathan SpokeyJack, before lashing the ball home at the near post.

A frantic finish to the opening period almost brought about an equaliser, when Spokeyjack's rasping effort from just inside the penalty area beat Francois Decoret but smashed off the crossbar.

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The energy levels were maintained straight from the off after the break - leading to AS Pirae re-establishing their two goal lead. A cross from the left by Sandro Tau evaded the bodies in the centre of the box, leaving Ariiura Labaste with an easy-tap in at the far post.

Labaste was on hand to add his second and Pirae's fourth in the 63rd minute - driving his effort through a thicket of legs and into the far corner to put the host nation side in control.

The effects of their disrupted arrival was clearly taking its' toll on Ifira as the second-half wore on and it came as no surprise when AS Pirae added a fifth. Sandro Tau nodding in from close range following a clever headed assist from Heirauarii Salem.

Ifira's attempts to get back into the match were dealt a significant blow when goalscorer Iawak was shown a deserved straight red card following a reckless lunge in the 77th minute.

AS Pirae’s second win of the tournament sees them climb back to the top of Group B and all but secure a spot in the semi-finals, as for Ifira Black Bird the remainder of their team arrives tonight, providing much needed reinforcements ahead of their second match against Samoa’s Vaivase-ta FC.

AS Pirae: 5 (Yohann TIHONI 10’, Etienne TAVE 14’, Ariiura LABASTE 52', 63', Heirauarii SALEM 72')
Ifira Black Bird FC: 1 (Kerry IAWAK 27’)

HT: 2-1

© Scoop Media

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