Auckland City FC have claimed the scalp of another professional club with a 1-0 win over Korean champions FC Seoul to open the Nike Lunar New Year Cup in Hong Kong.

Emiliano Tade put the icing on Auckland's fine first-half performance with the only goal of the game at the end of a move he started himself.

Winning the ball in the centre circle, Tade drove forward, found Ryan De Vries cutting in on his right, who returned the favour with a pass that took out Yoo Hyun, leaving his team-mate with the simplest of finishes.

The goal was deserved reward for a half in which they dominated possession and it set up another famous scalp for the Sandringham club.


"It's a fantastic result," said Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx. "We're playing the best team in Korea, who just won the 2016 K-League.

"They're a full-time professional team, with a big stadium and big facilities, and some guys from Auckland City, just a very small club in New Zealand, have not only managed to compete, but also win the game."

As expected of a team that has been to two AFC Champions League finals in recent years, FC Seoul ratcheted up their intensity after the break, with former Monaco and Arsenal forward Park Chu Young adding plenty of spark when he replaced Montenegro international Dejan Domjanovic.

But the Navy Blues defence held firm and while they benefitted from a pair of brilliant saves from Enaut Zubikarai on Kwak Tawhwi and Osmar respectively, it was far from one-way traffic, with only the woodwork preventing Tade from doubling the lead.

"We started well in the second half, but maybe it evened up a bit," said Tribulietx.

"They pushed higher, but we managed to break through the pressure a few times. After the first 25 minutes, we began to tire and that's when we gave the initiative to them."

"That's when you have to be able to suffer, shut the whole thing down, and hope you are defensively organised, don't give them any chances and can catch them on a counter, which we almost did. "

Tribulietx was reluctant to rank the result among the list of professional clubs Auckland City has beaten, but was clear the victory's significance should not be lost.


"It's another very professional performance from a very small club. These people here don't understand how big the difference is.

"After so many Club World Cups and competitive performances, I think people think we are a lot bigger than we are.

"If they came to New Zealand and saw our club, which is driven by a lot of volunteers making a big effort, they'd be surprised to see us play well against clubs that are 30, 40 times bigger ours. We're very proud."

The celebrations were dampened somewhat by an injury to captain Angel Berlanga, taken to hospital for x-rays on a facial injury sustained late in the match.

Auckland City will now play the winner of Saturday's other match between host club Kitchee SC and Thai champions SCG Muangthong United in Tuesday's final of the invitational tournament.

That match will kick off at 5.30pm local time (10pm NZDT).