KANSAS CITY, Kan.- Sporting KC advanced to the Semi-final of the CONCACAF Champions League by defeating Independiente from Panamá 3-0.
After digging their own hole in the first leg, Sporting KC had the pedal to the floor from the first kick. They needed at least one goal to advance, but a win of two or more would’ve certainly done it.
It felt like the breakthrough would never come for Sporting. It took nearly 75 minutes and 20 plus attempts to get their breakthrough. When they did, the flood gates finally opened. Panamanian Goalkeeper, Jose Guerra stood on his head making incredible save after incredible save.
A corner kick in the 74th found the head of Botond Barath, who then got it to Krisztian Nemeth, who slotted home to make it 1-0, and give Sporting KC the lead on the Away Goals tie-breaker.
In the 81st minute, a wonderful ball across the box found Johnny Russell who tapped it back to a marauding Roger Espinoza, who roofed it to make it 2-0, and give Sporting the full aggregate lead. Gerso found Nemeth on a similar cross into the box in the 84th minute. Nemeth expertly flicked it home to put the tie out of question at 3-0.
- Sporting KC handled adversity in an impressive way for so early on in the season. It was a frustrating first hour of the match, with so much time-wasting and so many chances missed. But they persevered, and went on to get the first goal, and then the second and third. The second and third were the most important on the night, as it really put the result out of reach.
- Krisztian Nemeth was fantastic again. His work rate around the box, in defense, and then ability to deftly finish his second goal, it all showed his ability. He’s done a massive job in quieting any doubts most had about Sporting KC’s number nine situation.
- Independiente should be proud of how they played overall. Ultimately they finally ran into a stronger team, but to rattle off three straight solid results against strong teams was impressive. Their goalkeeper as well, Jose Guerra, was very, very good, making 10 massive saves on the night.