FC Dallas fought back to earn a 2-1 victory against C.F. Pachuca in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals on Wednesday night. Kellyn Acosta delivered the knockout blow in the 58th minute, scoring a stunning free kick winner from 25 yards. FC Dallas qualified for the semis after a comprehensive 5-2 demolition of Panama’s Árabe Unido. Pachuca reached the final four by thrashing Deportivo Saprissa 4-0 at Estadio Hidalgo in the second leg of the CCL quarterfinals.
FC Dallas Fights Back Against Pachuca in the CCL Semis
Pachuca sucker-punched FC Dallas in the opening moments of the match. Twenty year old fullback Érick Aguirre roasted Hernan Grana on the right side of Dallas’ defense, dribbling to the byline. He centered for Franco Jara who controlled the ball on his chest, and thumped a half-volley off the post and into goal. The opening strike stunned FC Dallas and they spent the next 25 minutes trying to get a foothold in the match.
The Texas side slowly came to their senses and in the 44th minute Hernan Grana atoned for his earlier mistake. He made a blazing run down Pachuca’s left hand side and served a delicious cross for Cristian Colmán. The Paraguayan attacked the ball with his head, but could not connect. Pachuca’s goalkeeper parried, but the ball fell to Maxi Urruti inside the top of the box. Urruti directed a difficult first time strike into goal to equalize, narrowly escaping a defender’s tackle. FC Dallas felt lucky to be level heading into the break, after a disastrous start to the half.
FC Dallas pressed for a goal from the opening whistle of the second half. After near misses by Colmán and Gruezo, Kellyn Acosta treated the Dallas faithful to a moment of magic. Pachuca conceded a free kick just outside of their box when Óscar Murillo elbowed Maxi Urruti as the two competed for a header. Kellyn Acosta sized up the free kick and unleashed a picturesque curled ball over the wall and into the top right of the goal.
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FC Dallas controlled most of the second half, creating more chances than their Liga MX opposition. The play balanced out as the full time whistle approached, and Pachuca almost grabbed a late equalizer in the 92nd minute. A long ball was delivered into the box by Jonathan Urretaviscaya. Braian Rodríguez jumped above a crowd and looped a header toward goal, but Chris Seitz recovered well and tipped the ball over the bar. The victory was secured for FC Dallas and the matched ended 2-1.
Despite a nearly fatal start, FC Dallas forged an admirable comeback in Frisco against Pachuca. They did so by scoring two quality goals against the stingiest defense in Liga MX. The early away goal they conceded could be costly though. They take a very narrow lead to Estadio Hidalgo, where it will prove difficult to shut down Pachuca. FC Dallas will likely need at least one goal and a special defensive performance to advance. Part two of this series will decide a winner on Tuesday, April 4th at 10pm ET. The winner faces either Tigres UANL or the Vancouver Whitecaps in the CONCACAF Champions League final.