Phoenix threaten to abandon Auckland if crowd fails to show

The Wellington Phoenix could walk away from their annual fixture in Auckland if they fail to draw a big enough crowd to Saturday's A-League clash with the Central Coast Mariners.

The Phoenix had 18,000 attend last season's match at Eden Park, but have sold only 9000 tickets two days out from Saturday's game at the stadium.

General manager David Dome says the club is hopeful of a big crowd given 60% of sales occur on the last two days before kickoff.

However, he warned that if not enough people showed up, the club would have to reassess the trip north.

"The board is looking very closely at the turnout for this game given the excellent form the team is in - second most goals scored in the A-League, Golden Boot in Nathan Burns and red hot ex-Aucklanders Roy Krishna and Albert Riera in the team," he told ONE News.

"Given the costs associated with Eden Park a poor turnout will mean some re-evaluation of the Auckland fixture."

The match, which begins at 5pm, is on the same day as the popular Christmas in the Park at the Auckland Domain.

There is, however, free bus and train travel to get people from Eden Park to Grafton ahead of the start of Christmas in the Park at 7.30pm.

The match is defender Ben Sigmund's 150th match for the club, and the team, who sit fifth in the ladder, will wear a special jersey to commemorate the release of the new Hobbit film.

Roy Krishna scores a stunner, but how did the Wellington Phoenix fare against the Newcastle Jets? Source: SKY


Auckland City win thrilling penalty shootout at FIFA Club World Cup

Auckland City are through to the quarter-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup after edging Moroccan side Moghreb Tetouan 4-3 in penalties in Morocco today.

The Oceania champions should have won in regulation time but after 120 minutes of largely dull action, penalties was the only way to decide who would play Algerian side ES Setif in the last eight.

In a win worth $1.3 million for New Zealand Football and its ASB Premiership franchises, Auckland City are now only two wins away from a possible dream match-up against Champions League winners Real Madrid.

Just as significantly, Auckland FC have won just their third ever match at this event after winning two matches at the 2009 edition.

In a game bereft of opportunities, a penalty shootout was the only way to decide a winner, with former All White Tim Payne calmly slotting home the first penalty.

Former All Whites keeper Tamati Williams then made one of the biggest saves of his career, with a green laser shining in his eye, when he denied Ahmed Jahouh with a good save to his right.

John Irving, Zaid Krouch, Darren White and Serigne Fall all converted their penalties to leave Auckland City on the brink of qualification, at 3-2 up.

But fingernails were shortened when Croatian Mario Bieln's weak shot was saved by Mohamed El Yousfi.

At 3-3, Auckland's City Nigerian striker Sanni Issa's brave shot into the roof of the net put all the pressure back on the home side and Mehdi Khallati choked in the decisive moment by hitting the post, to spark wild celebrations.

Lively start

Auckland City, making a record-breaking sixth appearance at this tournament, had the best two goal scoring opportunities of the first half.

In a lively start, Payne drilled a low shot from outside the box that was well saved by the Moghreb Tetouan keeper.

Then against the run of play, the Oceania champions pounced on the counter-attack with Ryan De Vries setting up Emiliano Tade with a wonderful chance from 10 yards out, but the Argentinean sprayed it wide.

De Vries had the best chance of a second half but he could only hit the side netting.

De Vries set up a late chance for Spaniard Angel Berlinga in extra time but his effort went wide to send the match into penalties.

The Navy Blues win was their second FIFA Club World Cup victory over African opponents and made up for last year's heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Raja Casablanca.

The Kiwi champions now face CAF Champions ES Setif on Saturday at the same venue.



Samri Nasri thunderbolt inspires Man City into last 16

Samri Nasri scored one goal and set up another as Manchester City won 2-0 at Roma today to reach the knockout phase of the Champions League, eliminating an Italian side that still seemed to be feeling the effects of its 7-1 thrashing by Bayern Munich.

It looked as if Roma was set to go through until Nasri found the target with a long, rising shot on the hour mark. Then Pablo Zabaleta doubled the visitors' lead in the 88th following a perfect pass from Nasri.

Bayern Munich easily won Group E with 15 points following a 3-0 home win over CSKA Moscow. City finished second with eight points, Roma was third with five and will play in the Europa League. CSKA finished last, also with five points.