FC Dallas got a near perfect start to their CONCACAF Champions League campaign as they managed a 2-1 win over Nicuragua’s Real Esteli at Toyota Stadium. Dallas were made to work for it but a late goal from defender Maynor Figueroa gave the hosts all three points.
After 20 minutes FC Dallas went agonizingly close to the lead when FC Dallas midfielder Mauro Diaz sent a long ball over the Real Esteli defense. That found his striker Michael Barrios who was able to shoot powerfully across the face, the shot broke through the keeper’s hands and off the post but could only find the woodwork.
Nine minutes later Esteli responded and could well have had the lead as midfielder Gregorio Torres worked hard to create the chance. Torres made space for himself 30 yards out and hit a powerful shot, which beat the keeper but could only find the crossbar on the way out.
In the penultimate minute of the half, FC Dallas finally broke through for the opener as Atiba Harris won possession at the back post and headed down for his striker, Barrios. Barrios’ shot was well saved, but Esteli could only half-clear the ball, which fell to FC Dallas defender, Ryan Hollingshead who beat two defenders and returned the ball to Barrios who put it away with his thigh.
Juan Berdun came on as a half-time substitute or Esteli and it took him just three minutes to find the equalizer. A long ball looked to be heading for a goal-kick but Berdun chased it down and ran at the keeper, shooting it over his arms and off the crossbar over the line.
That saw Esteli confident and they looked to hold out looking for a valuable point on the road against the favorites in the group. With ten minutes to play things were looking good for the Nicaraguans but Dallas finally broke through.
With six minutes to play Mauro Rosales received the ball and looked up seeing players available, and he crossed in to the box. That ball deflected to FC Dallas striker Max Urruti, who had time and waited for support before crossing in to defender Maynor Figueroa who sent the ball home.