MANAGUA, Nicaragua (WCMH) — The Columbus Crew kicked off their 2021 campaign by dominating Real Esteli FC 4-0 in the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 Leg 1. All four goals came in the first half.
The two teams will compete twice with the second game set for April 15 in Columbus. The team with the most goals advances to the quarterfinals. If both teams have the same amount of goals, the tie breaker is determined by most road goals scored.
The Crew qualified for the Concacaf Champions League by winning the 2020 MLS Cup.
Gyasi Zardes got the scoring started after taking the ball away from Real Esteli inside the penalty box and snuck it past the charging goalkeeper 19 minutes into the game.
Jonathan Mensah added a second goal 10 minutes later on a perfectly placed corner kick by Lucas Zelarayan. Mensah barely got a foot on it but it was enough to send the ball skipping over the head of a defender and the outstretched arms of the goalie to give the Crew a 2-0 lead.
Zardes scored his second goal of the game after a well-placed assist by Luis Díaz who couldn’t control the initial pass but adjusted, waited patiently in the box and found Zardes in the 33rd minute.
Columbus added one more goal just moments before halftime when Real Esteli committed a hand ball inside the box to give the Crew a penalty kick, which Pedro Santos buried to make the game 4-0.