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Groups take shape after third round

A pair of 2-0 home victories took place in Group A this afternoon with Amicale defeating Solomon Warriors and Ba triumphing over Hekari United to leave the losing sides with just one point each to show from their efforts so far and in great need of embarking on a winning run. The Group B results were a bit more eyebrow-raising as Auckland City swept aside visitors Mont-Dore 12-2 in record-breaking fashion and Waitakere notched a vital 1-0 win in Tahiti, a nation the west Aucklanders have previously found it difficult to secure maximum points in.#Defending champions Auckland remain the only side with a perfect record and have now placed one foot in the semi-finals but Waitakere will also fancy their chances of progressing with two matches against winless Mont-Dore and a clash with Auckland still to come.#Auckland’s lopsided result is the highest ever win in the history of the competition – surpassing Waitakere’s 10-0 success over Tahiti’s Tefana last season – and much of the damage was done in the first half at Kiwitea Street as a hat-trick to Adam Dickinson, a double for new Croatian signing Mario Bilen and further goals to Darren White, Gustavo Suoto, Chris Bale and Albert Riera had them 9-0 up at the break.#Mont-Dore launched a comeback of sorts in the second period to restrict Auckland to just three more strikes – all going to substitute Manel Exposito as he became the day’s second hat-trick scorer – and finding the net twice themselves through Jean-Pierre Bob and Romain Painbeni. But it was far too late for the visitors to try to take any points back to Noumea by that stage and Auckland coach Ramon Tribulietx was a satisfied man come the final whistle.#“I think we played fantastically well in the first half,” he said. “We were good enough to put the first few chances away and Mont-Dore then lost the plot a little bit, which was understandable with the way we played. We have to be happy with the performance and it’s great to score 12 goals but there is still a long way to go in the competition so we have to keep going.”#Mont-Dore coach Stephane Drahusak admitted his side’s opening to the game was a humiliating experience.#“The first feeling I have is that of embarrassment because at the end of ten minutes to have let in three goals is not acceptable,” he said. “We had no right to put our heads down and stop playing. In the second half we showed we are capable of playing but, even if Auckland are a very good team, we should have done better. The most important thing is the mind and as coaches we can’t do the work for the players.”#Waitakere may not have been able to match Auckland’s goalscoring feats at Stade Pater in Papeete but that did not bother coach Paul Marshall, who watched captain Jake Butler earn the win with a 43rd-minute header.#“I think this sets us up beautifully going forward as we now play Mont-Dore twice whereas Auckland have to play Dragon twice,” Marshall said. “Dragon are a quality side and I think they will cause Auckland huge problems. They put plenty of pressure on us but our defensive performance was outstanding and we managed to score a great goal.”#Home advantage proved telling in Group A as Amicale and Ba both welcomed the chance to play on their own soil after beginning with two away matches. Both games attracted large crowds and those fans had plenty to cheer about as their heroes continued their strong starts to the tournament.#Thousands filed into Port Vila Stadium in Vanuatu to witness Amicale post their second win but they had to wait an hour for a goal to arrive, Alphonse Bongnaim finally breaking through the resistance of Solomon Warriors to finish off a corner. Despite Amicale’s Solomon Islands international Jack Wetney being handed a red card for his second bookable offence just a couple of minutes later, it was the home side who added further to the scoreline, Dominique Fred latching onto a pass from substitute Paul Ngom and beating goalkeeper Eddie Newman in the 88th minute.#“The fans are great and without them we would not have beaten Warriors today,” Amicale coach Richard Iwai said. “We still have three more games to play and we will need the same number of fans to come out and support us. Our aim is to make the semi-finals and to do that we must treat every game like a final – today we’ve overcome one more.”#Having seen his men fail to win either of their two previous matches, Warriors coach Brendan Crichton was aware of the importance of taking something from today’s match but was philosophical about his side’s semi-final prospects after suffering another loss.#“We’ve got a mountain to climb now but, for us, this season is about learning because the club has never been in a situation like this before,” he said. “I think we played well in the first half but everything changed in the second half as Amicale put a lot of pressure on us.”#Hekari United also found themselves under pressure away to Ba in Fiji and could not deny the Men in Black their second win of the campaign at Govind Park. The locals of the football-mad town had turned out in force with high hopes and were rewarded for their fanatical support when Malakai Tiwa fired home for Ba in the 18th minute after being played in by Sanni Issa.#Nigerian striker Issa scored a goal of his own on 80 minutes to finally make the game safe and Hekari’s unhappy day was complete when Pita Bolatoga picked up his second caution and was dismissed in injury time. Hekari had earlier spurned their best chance to get back into the game when Ba goalkeeper Jone Ralulu saved a Kema Jack penalty just before the hour mark.#“I don’t know what to say about today, the boys played well and could have scored but we missed the penalty and couldn’t take the other chances we had,” Hekari coach Jerry Allen said. “It will now be very difficult for us but we have three games remaining and will do our best.”#Ba counterpart Yogendra Dutt was pleased to have recorded another win but is aware there is still much work to be done.#“We are close to what we have decided to do this year,” he said. “Now we will have a recovery and then we will watch today’s game to prepare for our upcoming matches.”#The OFC Champions League continues on Wednesday with Amicale hosting Hekari and Solomon Warriors travelling to Ba in Group A. The Group B action comes in the form of a double header in New Zealand at Trusts Arena, Auckland meeting Dragon at 3pm local time before Waitakere take on Mont-Dore from 6pm.# OFC MEDIA

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