New York City FC survived a wild first leg of their Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 series with AD San Carlos, as the Cityzens secured a 5-3 win in Costa Rica behind a Heber hat trick on Ronny Deila’s competitive coaching debut for the club.
NYCFC jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first half, when Heber twice supplied one-touch finishes off crosses at the the near post. The first arrived in the 13th minute via Ronald Matarrita from the left, while the second was provided by Anton Tinnerholm on the right in the 35th minute to double the visitors' advantage.
A near-perfect first half for NYCFC was soured, though, in the 45th minute when San Carlos forward Jorman Aguilar latched onto a long ball to make it 2-1. He rifled home a left-footed shot to the far post past Sean Johnson, only for replays to indicate a hint of offside in the buildup. The goal stood.
After the break, Heber completed his hat trick in the 52nd minute, dispatching a penalty kick to the left of goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton after left back Jose David Sanchez handled the ball in the penalty area. NYCFC center back Alexander Callens then made it 4-1 in the 61st minute off a free kick, adding to a lofty away-goals total in what ultimately served as the game-winner.
San Carlos kept pushing for a lifeline at the neutral Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto, and the Costa Ricans found exactly that with goals in the 63rd and 79th minutes to make it 4-3. First, midfielder Marcos Mena headed home at the near post, followed by former Montreal Impact forward Omar Browne who scored a bouncing golazo from 30 yards out.
While the locals pressed for an equalizer, NYCFC put the game to rest in the 92nd minute after Maxi Moralez was fouled in the 18-yard box. Moralez missed the ensuing penalty kick, but Alexandru Mitrita cushioned home the rebound to seal the 5-3 result.
- 13' – NYC – Heber | WATCH
- 35' – NYC – Heber | WATCH
- 45' – ASC – Jorman Aguilar | WATCH
- 52' – NYC – Heber (PK) | WATCH
- 61' – NYC – Alexander Callens | WATCH
- 63' – ASC – Marcos Mena | WATCH
- 79' – ASC – Omar Browne | WATCH
- 90'+2 – NYC – Alexandru Mirita | WATCH
MOMENT OF THE MATCH:
While NYCFC got the win, this match featured several jaw-dropping goals from San Carlos. The pick of the bunch was supplied by Panamanian forward Omar Browne, who played 10 games for the Montreal Impact in 2019. What a strike.
MAN OF THE MATCH:
This nod goes to Heber every day of the week, as the Brazilian forward secured his first hat trick for NYCFC and the first hat trick for an MLS player in Champions League play. He logged a fantastic 64-minute shift at center forward, and was an absolute handful for San Carlos defenders.
- New York City FC vs. AD San Carlos: Wednesday, Feb. 26, Concacaf Champions League Round of 16, 2nd leg (6 pm ET | FS2, TUDN)
AD San Carlos (4-4-2, left to right): Patrick Pemberton – David Sanchez, Fernando Brenes, Lucas Meza, Jordan Smith — Marcos Mena, Carlos Acosta (54' Christian Martinez), Randy Chirino (70' Juan Vicente Solis), Esteban Ramirez – Jorman Aguilar, Julio Cruz (53' Omar Browne)
New York City FC (4-3-3, left to right): Sean Johnson – Ronald Matarrita, Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot, Anton Tinnerholm (62' Joe Scally) — James Sands, Alex Ring, Keaton Parks (64' Maxi Moralez) — Jesus Medina, Heber (64' Valentin Castellanos), Alexandru Mitrita