Soccer: Auckland kick off O-League with win

By Kris Shannon

Adam Dickinson of Auckland City. Photo / Getty Images.
Adam Dickinson of Auckland City. Photo / Getty Images.

Defending champions Auckland City kicked off the O-League with a 2-0 win away to Mont Dore today while rivals Waitakere United were held at home by AS Dragon.

Auckland have won three of the four editions of the competition between Oceania's best club sides and they showed their experience with a professional display against the New Caledonia champions in Noumea.

But the first week of the revamped league was not so kind to Waitakere, who squandered several second half chances to draw 0-0 against Tahiti's top side at Whenuapai.

The city rivals have been drawn in the same group for the month-long competition - the first time it has been held in a condensed time period rather than spread throughout a season - and they will renew hostilities next weekend at Fred Taylor Park.

Waitakere edged an epic ASB Premiership final against Auckland earlier this month so, despite today's results, they will take confidence into the latest instalment of the Super City derby.

With the top two sides from each group progressing to the semifinals, both teams can make the final of the competition, the winner of which qualifies for the Club Word Cup.

Two second half goals, one from the penalty spot, gave Auckland victory against the youngest squad in the competition, but they made heavy work of breaking down their opponents after a goalless first half.

That deadlock eventually ended on the hour mark when Spanish striker Gustavo Souto lobbed the Mont Dore goalkeeper for his first O-League strike. And the visitors' lead was soon doubled, with fellow Spaniard Manel Exposito bundled over in the box and Adam Dickinson converting the spot kick.

Waitakere, meanwhile, found the going similarly tough on a heavy pitch in west Auckland. The hosts started the match slowly, with the only real chance of the first half falling to Roy Krishna who saw his shot cleared off the line.

Dragon may have been lucky to make it to halftime with 10 men after All Whites defender Aaron Scott suffered a kick to the neck near the benches, with Fijian referee Rakesh Varman opting to show a yellow card.

Waitakere warmed into their work in the second spell, hitting the woodwork twice and being denied in a couple of one-on-one opportunities. But - much to the elation of the Tahitian side and their supporters - they were unable to find the breakthrough and ceded early advantage to Auckland.

- APNZ

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