BY ROMULUS HUTA
A goal by Solomon Islands international Michael Lea’alafa helped New Zealand Champions Auckland City regained its lead in the ISPS Handa Premiership.
Lea’alafa was introduced as sub after halftime and added the second goal in the 71st minute in the ISPS Handa Premiership mid-week fixture 2-0 win against Eastern Suburbs.
Emiliano Tade added the first goal by smashing home a wonderful free-kick beyond Louis Caunter on 20 minutes in a repeat of his effort against Canterbury United in Christchurch on Sunday.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx was a very happy man after watching his side notch back-to-back wins over two sides in the top four.
“It was a game of two halves and very hard on both teams and it was a big effort playing on Sunday and with a short turnaround. Our boys were a bit tired second half and our performance was a bit disjointed.
“The battle was very good and we created good chances to score – one in each half – but thats football, but overall a great effort from us.
“It was a more defensive display in the second half and we were very competitive and I’m very happy with that,” he said.
Tribulietx complimented Tade on yet another fine finish from a free-kick and Lea’alafa’s finish on the counter.
“Their keeper was positioned a little bit centrally and Tade is very smart in those situations and he’s done that before. It was a very good goal.
“For the second we’ve had the counter attack and they were going for the equaliser and committed a lot of players forward but on the counter we knew we could hurt them. Micah is a great asset for us and he’s done well for us,” he said.
“We have a lot of tired players but we have an extra day to recover and we have a very good squad of players.
“These two games were going to be very tough and now the Wanderers game some have played two lots of 90 minutes.
“We’ll make sure we’ve got a competitive team out there next Sunday,” he said.
The victory lifted Auckland City FC into top spot with a narrow one points lead over defending champions Team Wellington and vanquished rivals Eastern Suburbs AFC with six rounds left to play.
The win handed their third derby victory over Eastern Suburbs AFC since they rejoined the the New Zealand domestic top flight last season.
Auckland City FC face their third game in a week when they meet Hamilton Wanderers at Links Avenue in Tauranga in front of the Sky Sport cameras next Sunday.