The Columbus Crew cruised through to the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over Real Esteli on Thursday to complete an emphatic 5-0 win on aggregate and make it a clean sweep for MLS clubs in the Round of 16.
In a largely uneventful game, Bradley Wright-Phillips added a late goal in his first ever start in black and gold to secure a win at Historic Crew Stadium.
At the 86th minute, Lucas Zelarayan sent a through ball through the middle of the field for the veteran striker. Once inside the box, BWP calmly put the ball in towards the far post to warm himself up ahead of the 2021 MLS regular season
The Crew, who were heading into the game with eight changes from the first leg, lost a player only eight minutes when Aidan Morris was forced to substitute off for Grant Lillard after his left knee awkwardly twisted in the pitch. The early sub forced Perry Kitchen, who was making his debut for the Crew, to move from center back to central midfield.
After a dreary first half, the Crew’s advantage was signed, sealed and delivered. In addition to BWP’s late brace the hosts successfully defended every Esteli attack en route to Eloy Room’s second straight clean sheet of 2021.
Having successfully rested their starters, the Crew will look forward to take on fellow Concacaf Champions League quarterfinalists Philadelphia Union on Sunday in their season debut.
- 86' - CLB - Bradley Wright-Phillips | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: All the Crew needed to do was to safely play out the second leg without any Concacaf Champions League oop-la and they achieved it. They will likely face a much sterner test in the quarterfinals, however, with Liga MX giants Monterrey the probably opponents, holding a 3-0 lead over Atletico Pantoja.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It has to be Wright-Phillips feeding onto a typical through ball from Lucas Zelarayan to open his Columbus Crew account in his very first start.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Bradley Wright-Phillips, back in a number 99 strip, opened his account for his third MLS club.
CLB: Sunday, April 18 vs Philadelphia Union | 5:30pm ET FS1 & FOX Deportes | MLS Regular Season