Late Kljestan goal dumps Alianza, 1:0
September 15, 2016
This is Sacha Kljestan's team. There is no doubt about it. The talismanic midfielder scored in the 90th minute, giving Metro an essential Champions League victory over Alianza of El Salvador, 1:0. The victory moved Metro on the verge of qualification to the CONCACAF playoff round for the first time in history.
Kljestan was rested at the beginning of the match, but Jesse Marsch elected to go with a fairly strong team that featured Luis Robles in goal and Gonzalo Veron as the lone striker. Metro dominated the play early, with Alianza's goalkeeper having to make a number of saves to keep the game level. Gradually, the Salvadoreans got their chances, and it was time for Robles to come up big.
Kljestan came on after the half hour and immediately assumed control of the game. It would take until the end of full time for Metro to strike through. Veron sent a cross from the left side into the box, Kljestan ran onto it, and just like that, Metro had three points.
With just one group game left, Metro can guarantee advancement by beating or tying Antigua on the road. Since the first tiebreaker is head-to-head (results, followed by aggregate, followed by away goals), a two-goal loss, or a three-goal loss where Metro scores a goal would also guarantee advancement. (The best Antgiua can do is tie Metro on seven points; Alianza was eliminated tonight.) It's also possible that all Guatemalan teams might be suspended from CONCACAF competitions, which would render the rest of the group stage moot. We'll see soon enough...
But tonight, let's just celebrate Sacha Kljestan.
Lineup: Robles, Bilyeu, Collin, Long, Zizzo, Adams, Davis, Martins, Grella, Muyl, Veron. Subs: Kljestan, Duvall, Lawrence.