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Ike OparaIke Opara
Esteli, Nicaragua - Sporting Kansas opened its 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League campaign with a 2-0 win over Real Esteli Wednesday night at Estadio Independencia in Esteli, Nicaragua.
Ike Opara and Dom Dwyer provided the goals as Sporting KC earned three points to move into first place in Group 2 of CCL.
Sporting KC controlled the tempo of the match in its first appearance in CONCACAF Champions League. The visitors out-shot Real Esteli 15-7 and controlled 52.4 percent of the possession.
Dwyer, starting his first competitive match for Sporting KC, tested the Real Esteli backline early and nearly put the visitors on the board in the ninth minute. The second-year striker received a pass from Jacob Peterson down the right flank, cut to the middle and pulled a shot just wide of the near post.
Sporting KC took the lead in the 32nd minute off a set piece. Benny Feilhaber curled a perfectly weighted ball onto the head of Opara. The 6-foot-4 centerback out-jumped his defender and lofted a header into the far corner of the net, just out of the reach out goalkeeper Justo Lorente.
Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg made two saves in the game and commanded his box well in his first competitive appearance since June 12.
Up a goal in the second half, Sporting KC continued to press the Real Esteli backline. In the 65th minute, Feilhaber and Uri Rosell played a short free kick that resulted in a Feilhaber strike just over the crossbar. Minutes later, Soony Saad beat a defender off the dribble and ripped a shot that Lorente parried away. On the ensuing corner kick, Dwyer got a head on a Saad corner kick but the ball rolled just wide of the far post.
Dwyer got his redemption in the 76th minute, however, when he doubled Sporting KC's lead. The 23-year-old picked up a long ball 30 yards from goal, beat a Real Esteli defender off the dribble and finished with a clinical strike to the far post.
Sporting KC's next CONCACAF Champions League match is Aug. 27 when the team travels to Honduras to take on CD Olimpia.
Peter Vermes' squad returns to league play Saturday night when it plays host to the New England Revolution at Sporting Park at 7:30 p.m. Limited tickets are still available and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or at the Sporting Park Box Office.
- Story from Sporting KC