Honours have been shared between the two domestic powerhouses of New Zealand football with Team Wellington and Auckland City playing out a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their OFC Champions League semi-final in Wellington.
Three weeks after Auckland City edged Team Wellington 1-0 in the final of the NZ Premiership, the two familiar foes contested an entertaining stalemate in perfect conditions at David Farrington Park.
The result suits Auckland City better as the tie now shifts to their home at Kiwitea Street for the return leg next Sunday. However, Team Wellington will be encouraged by their performance in a game where they created a handful of good chances against an Auckland City side which has now played an astonishing 22-and-three-quarter hours of football in all competitions without conceding.
The best chance of the game fell to Emiliano Tade in the first half, the livewire Auckland City striker seizing onto a flick-on from Kris Bright and placing his shot beyond Team Wellington goalkeeper Scott Basalaj, only to see it strike the post and rebound to safety.
Angus Kilkolly had the home side's best first-half opportunity but couldn't beat goalkeeper Enaut Zubikarai when played through one-on-one, while Auckland City utility Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi could also have opened the scoring, but his header from Tade's free-kick was turned aside by Basalaj.
As the game wore on, Team Wellington were by far the more vigorous as they searched in vain for a lead to take to Kiwitea Street next weekend. Andy Bevin had two chances in quick succession midway through the second half, first seeing his deflected volley tipped over by Zubikarai, before flashing a 20-metre drive inches wide of the upright.
But Auckland City – marshalled superbly by captain Angel Berlanga – repelled everything thrown their way and will feel confident about progressing to the final and onto an eighth straight FIFA Club World Cup appearance in December. However, Team Wellington will know if they can be slightly more ruthless in front of goal, Auckland City's long reign as champions of Oceania may well be under threat.