The National, Thursday April 16th, 2015
HEKARI United’s dream run at the 2015 Oceania Champions League final was shattered after at 2-0 loss at the hands of Wellington at ANZ Stadium in Suva, Fiji, yesterday.
Wellington took the lead in the 22nd minute thanks to a Hekari own goal.
Luis Corrales latched onto a long ball from Chris Bale and his shot across the goal-face was deflected in by Hekari defender Haddis Aengari.
The New Zealanders doubled their lead at the end of the opening half.
A cleverly taken free kick saw left back Ian Hogg whip in a dangerous cross which drew Hekari keeper Benjamino Mateinaqara off his line.
The Fijian fumbled the save to see Kiwi striker Jarrod Smith tap in from close range.
The two goals put the Wellingtonians in the box seat for the remainder of the match as they were content to protect their lead and see out the second half.
To their credit, Hekari started the match strongly with a near goal but it took a top save from keeper Michael O’Keeffe to deny Emmanuel Simon in the ninth minute.
Hekari will play their final group game against Tefana tomorrow and a victory over the Tahitians as well as a loss by Wellington in their match with Tafea will see the Reds have a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.
The three group winners advance to the semi-finals along with the best overall runner-up which will be difficult for Hekari, who have a minus one goal differential.
In the other Group C result, Tafea drew 1-1 with Tefana in a foul-infested clash which saw one Tefana player, Steevy Chong Hue, red carded and four yellow cards dished out by referee Salesh Chand of Fiji.
An injury-time goal in the second half by Vetea Tchen levelled the score after Vanuatu star Jean Kaltack got his side ahead with a goal in the 36th minute.