Auckland City comfortably won their opening match at the OFC Champions League against Nadi 3-0 in Fiji today but it came at a cost with influential defender Angel Berlanga suffering a suspected leg fracture from a horrific tackle late in the game.
Auckland raced out to a 3-0 lead by halftime as they dominated against the local side and took off Ivan Vicelich early in the second half as coach Ramon Tribulietx planned for the rest of the week.
What he wouldn't have foreseen, however, was the loss of Berlanga, who was felled by a horrible, studs-up challenge from Samuela Drudru. Drudru was shown a straight red card but it was little consolation as Berlanga was stretchered off and then taken to hospital for a suspected fractured leg.
The Nadi side became increasingly frustrated as they tried to secure a foothold in the match and resorted to some dirty tactics.
"Probably the only good thing is the three points we got out of it,'' Tribulietx said. "We had a couple of injuries. The game was very rough in the end, unfortunately, but what can we do? At least we've got to be happy with those three points.''
Joao Moriera opened the scoring in the 12th minute and Daewook Kim and Emiliano Tade extended the lead to give Auckland a good buffer.
They face a tougher assignment in their next match against AS Dragon, who contain a number of the Tahiti national side, even though they were beaten 1-0 by Amicale of Vanuatu.
Waitakere United should be comfortable winners in their opening match against Kiwi of Samoa tomorrow.
The top four from the 12-team tournament progress to the home-and-away semifinals with the overall winner qualifying for the Club World Cup.
Auckland City FC 3 (Joao Moriera 12, Daewook Kim 23, Emiliano Tade 40)
Nadi FC 0