OFC Champions League debutant Henderson Eels FC is back in contention for a place in the quarter-finals.
This follows a hard-fought encounter which resulted in a 6-5 victory over Group B competition hosts, Lautoka FC at Churchill Park this afternoon.
On Sunday, Henderson Eels lost 3-2 against Group leaders AS Central Sport in the tournament opener.
With the triumph over Lautoka being the first victory for the club in its maiden appearance at Oceania’s premier club competition, that enables the Eddie Marahare-coached side to go three points on the table, sitting at the third spot.
In a thrilling action-packed contest, Hudson Felani opened up scoring for the Solomon Islanders in the first five minutes before Bong Kalo equalised for the homeside in the 24th minute.
Four minutes later, a cross by Joses Nawo from the right found Tutizama Tanito at the edge of the six yard box. Tanito made a slight touch to the ball and it deflected off Lautoka player Daniel Allen to go into the net.
The goal puts the visitors back into the driver’s seat at 2-1.
At the half hour mark, Nawo won possession from the Lautoka fullback at the edge of the area and drove in to deliver a pin-point pass across the goalmouth for Raynick Laeta to blast home in style and helped extend lead for Eels to 3-1 before Nawo added the fourth goal by the 34th minute.
Toward the halftime buffer, Lautoka was able to score two goals. One came from veteran striker Osea Vakatalesau, while another one was an own goal by Henderson Eels goalkeeper Desmond Tutu.
Prior to this, Tutu acted in a spectacular fashion to pull off a fine save against a Lautoka penalty kick taken by Zibraaz Sahib.
At the recess, the score was 4-3 infavour of Henderson Eels.
Lautoka came back strong in the second half and managed to equalise through Samuela Drudru in the 59th minute. Five minutes later, Kolinio Sivoki gifted the homeside with a fine goal which propelled the blues to go infront for the first time with a 5-4 lead.
Henderson Eels head coach Eddie Marahare responded quickly to the goal-deficit situation and introduced Clement Baegeni and Graham Tanavole onto the fray in place of Raynick Laeta and Freddie Kini, respectively.
Prior to that, Felani was stretched off the pitch after sustaining a cut above one of his eyes and made way for Augustine Tagana to come into the game.
Determined to equalise and get a winner, Henderson Eels pressed Lautoka deeply to dominate possession.
Despite missing out on several scoring occasions in the final 10 minutes, Baegeni was right on target in the 90th minute to equalise via a header.
The match extended into five minutes of added extra time and Nawo was on hand to deliver home the winner in the 90+4 minute.
Henderson Eels will play FC Morobe Wawens of PNG in its final match on Saturday at Churchill Park. The must-win clash will begin at 1pm (12noon Solomon Islands Time).
A win by Henderson Eels will put them in a strong position for a place in the last-eight.
–Henderson Eels Media