Team Wellington have lost a thrilling opening match at football’s FIFA club world cup in the United Arab Emirates, going down in heartbreaking fashion to local champions Al Ain in a penalty shootout.
Team Wellington shocked the hosts by scoring three first half goals to take a 3-1 lead into halftime, before Al Ain hit back with two second half strikes to send the match to extra time.
After 20 minutes of added time the team’s still couldn’t be separated, with the match going to penalties.
Both sides made three of their first four penalty shots, but when Al Ain made their fourth and Team Wellington missed theirs, the dream was over for the New Zealanders, dumped out of the tournament with a 4-3 loss on penalties.
Team Wellington are an amateur team making their first appearance at the tournament, while Al Ain are professional with their star striker, Sweden’s Marcus Berg, on a reported 4.1 million dollars a year.
Team Wellington qualified for the tournament by winning the Oceania Champions League title in May and were rank outsiders heading into this morning’s clash.
Al Ain advance to the next round against African champions Esperance S. de Tunis.
A win in that match would qualify them for the semi-finals against South American champions River Plate.
– Radio New Zealand