Things looked nervy for the better part of the second half, but FC Dallas managed to open their Champions League campaign with a solid victory against Nicaraguan champions Real Esteli thanks to a thunderous strike from left back Maynor Figueroa in the 84th minute.
Real Esteli really never really threatened to win or even pull any points out of this contest, but a wonder goal from Juan Berdún from a ridiculous angle had “El Tren” in a match that they really should’ve have been. Three points for Dallas was the right result, but that’s never a guarantee in the game of soccer.
Non Threatening Offense
Real Esteli really never should’ve threatened to take any points out of this contest. The Hoops are the vastly superior side and even Real Esteli’s bunker and counter didn’t produce much of anything.
(Green - successful pass. Red - unsuccessful pass. Yellow - key pass. Blue - assist.)
Above is El Tren’s entire passing chart from the match, and as you can see there was an invisible barrier keeping them from entering the final third. Minus that hopeful long ball, which resulted in the goal, FC Dallas’ defense and Jesse Gonzalez were never threatened in this one.
Even the shot chart showcased how much of a non factor this club was on the offensive side.
(Green - shot on target. Red - shot off target. Yellow - shot blocked.)
But it should also be noted that the Dallas defense did their fare share too. In the first half, the Hoops logged 25 defensive actions inside the attacking half (compared to 26 inside their own half), indicating they really pressed and were determined to show no respect to the Nicaraguan champions.
Even in the second half, Dallas pressed and pushed to retain the ball when possession was lost and were pushing for the eventual game winner.
Finishing Needs Improvement
On the stat sheet, FC Dallas managed 20 shot attempts and registered 9 of those on target in this contest. Dallas was met with some unlucky finishes and some heroic saves from Real Esteli keeper Justo Lorente, but really this match should have ended 3-0 or even 4-0.
Above are the first and second half shot charts respectively. While a majority of the shots came from outside the penalty area (not the first choice), at least most (5) of them forced a save out of Lorente. Real Esteli kept their defensive lines very deep in this contest, basically daring Dallas to shoot from distance. If they’re going to shoot at this range, they very much need to put at least half of them on frame. Without that, Real Esteli’s defenders wouldn’t venture out of their shape to close off the shooting lanes.
On any other day, with this kind of shot chart, Dallas probably would’ve finished 3 or 4 of these. But FCD will hope in the future, to not have to rely on late game heroics to close off teams that they should be disposing of more comfortably.