O-League: Wellington leave it late

Team Wellington's Ben Harris. Photo / Getty Images.
Team Wellington's Ben Harris. Photo / Getty Images.

An eventful afternoon for striker Ben Harris helped Team Wellington eventually see off the challenge of Suva in their opening game of the OFC Champions League.

The ASB Premiership winners began the tournament with a 2-0 victory at QBE Stadium yesterday, with Harris grabbing two second-half goals to decide the contest.

But Harris would have finished the match equally frustrated with his misfortune, as referee Joel Hopkken of Vanuatu made a couple of head-scratching calls while the score was still level.

After attacking well in the first half without putting too much pressure on the Suva goal, Wellington began to create some meaningful chances early in the second spell. Alex Feneredis had a free kick well saved and Leonardo Villa had a shot cleared off the line, before Hopkken waved away appeals for a stonewall penalty after Harris was upended in the box.

Just a minute later the striker appeared to let his emotions get the best of him as he was booked for a collision with a Suva defender but, on closer inspection, Harris was the one who was kicked.

But the Englishman kept his head and, 15 minutes from time, finally broke the deadlock with the aid of a fortuitous deflection that steered the ball in his path. There was nothing lucky about Harris' second, though, finding space at the far post and nodding a beautiful header over a stranded goalkeeper to clinch victory.

Auckland City get their campaign under way against Solomon Warriors this afternoon.

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