Suva created history in Port Villa, Vanuatu today after beating Tahiti’s AS Pirae 4-2 in extra time and booking its spot in the grand final of the OFC Champions League for the first time.
The Fijian champion side started the match on a fast pace and right-back Simione Nabenu netted the first goal in the 14th minute after getting a beautiful pass from Alex Saniel.
The Whites dominated the first spell and could have scored three more goals but moments of hesitation in front of the goalmouth and some inconsistent decisions did not see any further goals as the teams headed for drinks at the break.
Ni-Vanuatu marksman Azariah Soromon doubled Suva’s lead just two minutes into the second half after connecting well with a Marlon Tahioa through pass.
AS Pirae pulled one back through Tamatoa Tetauira in the 56th minute before Suva lost left-back Filipe Baravilala to a red card three minutes later.
With their tails up, Suva started to become a little complacent towards the end and they were punished when Arriura Labaste headed home the equalizer in the 89th minute, forcing the semifinal clash to head into extra time.
With a man less on the field, Suva opted for changes to last in extra time and this saw the introduction of Bruce Hughes, Waisake Navunigasau and Ravnesh Karan Singh.
From a long defensive clearance, Hughes managed to control the ball and feed a quick pass to Soromon who collided with the goalkeeper, managed to win the ball and place it into an empty net to snatch the lead in the 106th minute.
And as the Tahitians launched a late attack in search of the equaliser, Dave Radrigai stole the ball and raced away into the AS Pirae territory, beating defenders and laying it into the path of an unmarked Merrill Nand who made no mistake with his attempt to seal victory with the final nail on the coffin.
Suva will now face 10-times champions, Auckland City in the grand final on Saturday.