Auckland City 5
Auckland City cruised to their first win of the ASB Premiership season today, outclassing a spirited Canterbury United side 5-2 at Kiwitea street in Auckland.
After scoring three goals in the first 40 minutes, it looked like the points were in the bag for City, but a spirited fight back saw the visitors pull the score back to 3-2 in the second half, before Auckland well and truly finished the match with two late strikes.
City were simply too clinical in-front of goal, and by converting three of their four early chances, were essentially able to slip into cruise control.
But there was still a lot of rustiness from both sides, and while City easily did enough to win the game, they will need to play with a lot more cohesion if they are to have any success at next month's FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.
Ivan Vicelich was the standout for City in a typically classy performance at centre back, while Albert Riera and Jason Hicks both had some nice touches in midfield.
Late substitute Emiliano Tade looked dangerous every time he had the ball, and will be pushing Adam Dickinson hard for the starting role upfront after a classy shift.
Canterbury lacked a cutting edge up front, and didn't really look like threatening the City goal other than scoring from set plays, but showed enough fight and midfield dominance to still be considered a contender this season.
City striker Dickinson scored two of the easiest goals he is likely to score - nine minutes apart - to open the scoring. A 20th minute short-corner move found Ivan Vicelich on the edge of the box, and his crashing left footed volley was parried into the path of Dickenson by Canterbury goalkeeper Adam Highfield for the opener.
Soon after, diminutive midfielder Hicks caused havoc down the Canterbury left flank before firing a shot from close range at Highfield - who did well to keep it out, but could do nothing about Dickinson's follow up.
Former Waitakere United midfielder Chris Bale scored the pick of the goals to make it three, after timing his run from deep to perfection to latch onto Albert Riera's through ball, before controlling the ball in the air, settling himself and finding the net with his left foot in one swift motion.
Julyan Collet converted a corner at the far post to give Canterbury a fighting chance at halftime, before All White Aaron Clapham scored a classy panenka style penalty (chipping the ball down the middle of the goal) to breath life back into the fixture in the 69th minute.
But as Canterbury pushed on they looked vulnerable at the back, and substitute Emiliano Tade terrorised their defence, creating a goal for Albert Riera and then scoring one of his own to complete the rout.
-nzherald.co.nzBy Steven Holloway @Shollow1 Email Steven