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Auckland City Show Their Class To Secure Semi-final Berth

Auckland City FC have confirmed their place in the semi-finals of the OFC Men’s Champions League 2024 after a 5-0 victory over Solomon Warriors FC at Stade Paea.

Dylan Manickum was the star turn for the New Zealanders, scoring a hat-trick as the defending champions flexed their muscles ahead of next week’s semi-finals.

The Solomon Islands side were already assured of their elimination, having lost their opening matches, but were impressive in a first-half low on chances. Gagame Feni – so often his side’s primary attacking outlet – was again a focal point.

The powerful forward had the first shot in vain, scuffing his effort from the edge of the box straight at goalkeeper Conor Tracey.

As the first period meandered to a close, Dylan Manickum was on hand to give the defending champions the lead. Stipe Ukich’s effort could only be palmed out in front of goal by Timothy Maearasia and Manickum tapped into the unguarded net.

Manickum made it two for himself and his side within five minutes of the restart. Substitute Tong Zhou making the most of a loose ball in the box to prod the ball through for Manickum to stab home.

The hat-trick duly followed on the hour mark. Stipe Ukich was adjudged to have been upended in the box and Manickum converted with confidence.

Five minutes later and a second penalty was awarded, Ukich again winning the spot-kick. The winger took responsibility himself, slotting into the corner to make it 4-0 with just over twenty minutes remaining.

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The defending champions were showing their class as the second half wore on and a fifth arrived with a quarter of an hour left in the match. Substitute Ryan De Vries showing excellent footwork to create space in the box, before dragging a clever effort inside the near post to wrong-foot Maearasia.

Auckland City must now wait for Group B’s remaining fixtures to discover their semi-final opponent, with three of four teams in that group still in the mix for a place in the final four.

Auckland City FC: 5 (Dylan MANICKUM 40’, 49, 60 (P), Stipe Ukich 66 (P), Ryan De Vries 75)
Solomon Warriors: 0

HT: 1-0

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