Columbus Crew SC picked up a convincing victory to start its Concacaf Champions League campaign, beating Nicaraguan side Real Esteli 4-0 Thursday at Estadio Nacional de Futbol in Managua.
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Both sides had their chances to start the game, but the Crew took the lead in the 19th minute thanks to a goal from Gyasi Zardes. Esteli's Oscar Acevedo won the ball in the penalty area, but a heavy touch meant Zardes could regain possession for his side and score from close range.
From there, the 2020 MLS Cup champs were on a roll. They doubled the lead just six minutes later through a corner kick. Lucas Zelarayan swung the ball into the box, and though Jonathan Mensah could not get a clean touch on it, it did not stop the ball from going into the back of the net.
Zardes completed his brace in the 33rd minute, giving his side a 3-0 lead. Luis Diaz received a cross from inside the penalty area, eventually sending it Zardes' way as he positioned himself smack in the center of the box. From there, it was an easy finish for the forward.
The Crew wrapped up the first half by earning a penalty after an Esteli player was called for a handball. Pedro Santos converted the penalty in stoppage time.
The second half proved to be a more even affair, and Esteli getting the first meaningful chance on the other side of the breakthrough a header from Juan Barrera that was eventually saved by Eloy Room. The Crew could have added to their lead with a shot from Zelarayan in the 68th minute that eventually hit the crossbar. Esteli perhaps enjoyed the better of the chances in the second half, though the Crew defense was able to handle those attempts to close out the most impressive margin of victory for an MLS team in this season's Concacaf Champions League.
- 19' - CLB - Gyasi Zardes | WATCH
- 25' - CLB - Jonathan Mensah | WATCH
- 33' - CLB - Gyasi Zardes | WATCH
- 45'+1 - CLB - Pedro Santos | WATCH
*This editorial was provided by MLSsoccer.com and edited by ColumbusCrewSC.com