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Waitakere win ensures all-New Zealand final

The reward for Waitakere’s progression is a meeting this Sunday with fierce rivals Auckland City, who comfortably overcame Fijian side Ba 7-1 on aggregate in their semi-final.#Second-half goals from ex-All White Chad Coombes and Fijian striker Roy Krishna were enough to confirm Waitakere’s berth in the final as the home side hit back after Solomon Islands international Joses Nawo had given Amicale a shock half-time lead at Fred Taylor Park in Auckland.#Waitakere coach Paul Marshall admitted it was a far from vintage display from his charges and was relieved to have earned a result that keeps the west Aucklanders on track for an historic quadruple of trophies this season.#“It wasn’t a comfortable win and we didn’t play that well in the first half,” Marshall said. #“Sometimes you get performances like that for whatever reason. I’m not sure why we were a bit flat because we trained so well during the week but we got up at the end and, at the end of the day, it’s a pretty convincing aggregate. We were a lot better in the second half and it’s great to get through to the final.”#Heading into the match with a distinct advantage after posting a 2-0 win away in the first leg, Waitakere were heavily favoured to keep Amicale at bay and earn the result they needed to book that ground-breaking meeting in the final with Auckland City.#They began brightly and enjoyed the majority of the early possession but Amicale appeared to grow in confidence and gained more of a foothold in the game as the clock ticked along. #Coombes had Waitakere’s best chance of the first period on 16 minutes when he was played in by Krishna but couldn’t beat Amicale goalkeeper Chikau Mansale, who dived to his left to tip away the effort. Coombes then tried to beat Mansale again six minutes later in cheeky fashion with an audacious chip but the veteran gloveman was up to the task once more and scampered backwards to gather the ball and save his blushes.#The next notable effort went the way of the visitors and resulted in the ball nestling in the back of the net to turn the tie on its head in the 37th minute. After Amicale’s top scorer Fenedy Masauvakalo was fouled by Waitakere skipper Jake Butler just outside the area, Masauvakalo himself stepped up to take the free kick and smacked a shot into the Waitakere wall. The loose ball broke to Nawo, who produced a stunning volley that crashed off the cross bar and struck the back of diving goalkeeper Danny Robinson before bouncing over the line.#With the aggregate score now just 2-1 in Waitakere’s favour, the complexion of the game had changed dramatically and the hosts needed to produce a strong second-half display to ensure there would be no Amicale comeback.#Despite some neat interplay, Waitakere were not able to get into their usual flowing stride on attack but that mattered little as a piece of individual brilliance saw them wrestle the initiative back. Finding himself in a dangerous area just inside the Amicale box on 66 minutes, Coombes flicked a bouncing ball over a challenge before sweetly connecting with a volley that flew into the top corner for one of the goals of the season.#Amicale put plenty of effort into reducing the 3-1 aggregate deficit but could not beat Robinson again and it was instead Waitakere who scored next to confirm their passage to the final. With a minute to go, substitute Daniel Morgan made an immediate impact as he broke into the box on the left and squared for Krishna to coolly tuck home past Mansale and stay in the running for the competition’s Golden Boot award.#Amicale coach Richard Iwai was disappointed with the loss but had plenty of praise for the performance of his team.# OFC MEDIA#“I was very happy with the way we played – the only thing missing is that we have to put the ball in the net. We had a few chances today but couldn’t score enough goals,” he said.#“It’s not easy to beat these teams because they are the champions of their country and are representing that nation. I think we did well to make it through to the semi-finals and, if we had produced the same performance in the first leg at home as we did today, then we may have made it to the final.”#Defending champions Auckland and Waitakere will now meet on Sunday 19 May on Arena 2 at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, as they fight it out to earn the Pacific’s biggest prize in club football.#

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