CCL Recap: Ihemelu goal enough to see Dallas through
FRISCO, Texas - FC Dallas advanced to the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time in franchise history Wednesday night, defeating Salvadoran side Alianza FC, 1-0, and 2-0 on aggregate.
Ugo Ihemelu headed in the games only goal in the 36th minute, connecting with a Ricardo Villar corner kick.
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Game time temperatures reached 107 degrees with field temperatures reportedly up to 116 degrees, and after 20 minutes of play, the heat began to take its toll on the visiting side.
Dallas, who enjoyed nearly three-fourths of the possession on the night, appeared to take the early lead in 13th minute when Brek Shea found Ricardo Villar inside the Alianza 18-yard box, but the pass deflected off Villar’s hand before he struck it into goal.
The home side continued pressing forward with Villar and Shea combining in the attack, but the finishing pass or the resulting cross could not break the Alianza backline and goalkeeper Douglas Batrez did well to leave the goal line when called upon.
After numerous crosses and attempts missing the final touch, Ihemelu finally put his side up 2-0 on aggregate goals inside ten minutes to play in the first half.
Forward Jackson earned his side a corner kick, and Villar stepped up and stroked a ball into Los Albos six-yard box that Ihemelu headed off Edwin Martinez for an FCD lead.
In the second half with FC Dallas holding a 2-0 aggregate goals lead, Alianza created their best opportunity of the match. Midfielder Herbert Sosa struck a header off the crossbar and Rafael Burgos’ open attempt on net sailed over Kevin Hartman’s goal.
As the game entered the final 30 minutes, Alianza’s play became more urgent and physical.
Sosa – who FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said gave them trouble in the first leg – beat right back Zach Loyd on the dribble and feel inside the box looking for the penalty call from referee Enrico Wijingaarde but nothing was called to the dismay of the vocal Alianza fans present at Pizza Hut Park.
A late 40-yard free kick from Rene Alvarado flew high over Hartman’s goal as FCD celebrated their berth into the international club competition.
The worst news for the home side came shortly after Ihemelu’s goal when Sosa went after Jackson dribbling down the right flank and stuck the Brazilian in the ankle.
No card was shown on the play and Jackson – who scored the lone goal in the first leg in San Salvador – would not return as head coach Schellas Hyndman replaced with Ruben Luna.
Dallas advance to Group C that includes fellow MLS side Toronto FC, Tauro FC of Panama, and reigning Mexican champions Pumas UNAM.
Dallas will open group play in Mexico City against Pumas on Wednesday, Aug. 17, before traveling to play Toronto a week later.