Auckland City boosted their hopes of qualifying for this year’s FIFA Club World Cup in Japan by beating Vanuatu’s Amicale 2-1 in the first leg of the Oceania region’s club final.
Auckland thanked a lucky deflection for the decisive 82nd minute goal in Port Vila on Saturday, a clearing kick from Amicale defender Selwyn Sese Ala rebounding off Luis Corrales across the goal line after the grounded Costa Rican striker had slid in to meet a cross.
There was some doubt about whether Corrales would make it to Vanuatu – he arrived a day later than the rest of the squad – but City will be delighted they got him on a plane.
“There was a problem with his visa but he has been doing very well so we were keen to get him involved,” a relieved City co-coach Ramon Tribulietx said.
“The win has come via a little bit of luck in the end and I think we would definitely have settled for a draw,” said Auckland coach Aaron McFarland.
“Considering they played very well and dominated possession, we’re very happy with 2-1.”
Spanish striker Manuel Exposito scored from the penalty spot after being brought down by the keeper to put Auckland 1-0 up in the 22nd minute, before Amicale captain Fenedy Masauvakalo fired in a 67th minute equaliser.
The second leg for a place at the Club World Cup, and a guaranteed 250,000 pounds payday, is in Auckland on April 17.
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