May 18 (Reuters) - Emiliano Tade scored a late winner to give New Zealand’s Auckland City their fourth successive Oceania Champions League title after a tense 2-1 victory over Vanuatu’s Amicale on Sunday.
The win also guaranteed Auckland a trip to the lucrative FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco in December where they are guaranteed a payday of at least US$500,000 with more on offer if they advance past the initial playoff match.
Tade’s goal three minutes from the end of regulation time gave Auckland a 3-2 aggregate victory after the first leg of the final had ended 1-1 in Port Vila last week.
Kensi Tangis had given the visitors a 1-0 lead in stoppage time at the end of the first half when he powered a header past Tamati Williams following a Sanni Issa cross that split the Auckland City defence wide open.
Auckland’s Ryan de Vries, however, equalised in the 66th minute when Amicale’s defence failed to clear a lofted free kick and the striker pounced on the loose ball and blasted it past Chikau Mansale.
Amicale, owned by supermarket magnate Andrew Leong, had numerous chances to put the game beyond doubt, none more evident in the first half when they missed a penalty after Auckland captain Ivan Vicelich had brought Issa down in the box.
Former Aston Villa youth squad member Colin Marshall stepped up to take the penalty but his low shot to Williams’ right was well saved by the diving veteran.
Vicelich, however, was lucky to escape with just a yellow card with Issa clear on Williams, something that was pointed out by Amicale coach Nathan Hall after the game.
“I’m disappointed with the referee because I thought it was a straight red in my opinion,” Hall said.
“They get down to 10 men with 60 minutes to go and it’s a different ball game. We’re on top and I thought we could have got a few more past them.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Ian Ransom