A goal by Sacha Kljestan (white jersey) lifted the New York Red Bulls over Alianza in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League on September 15, 2016, in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo: Mexsport)
HARRISON, New Jersey – Second-half substitute Sacha Kljestan scored in the 90th minute to lift the New York Red Bulls to a dramatic 1-0 Group F victory over Alianza in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League at Red Bull Arena on Thursday night.
The result solidified the Red Bulls’ lead atop the table with a 2W-1D-0L mark, while Alianza (0-2-1) was eliminated from contention. New York can clinch a spot in the quarterfinals with at least a draw at Antigua GFC on September 27.
Gonzalo Veron -- dangerous on the left flank for a majority of the match -- sent a cross to an unmarked Kljestan, who fired a shot into right side of the net past goalkeeper Oscar Arroyo.
The Red Bulls enjoyed the better of play in the opening half, though they had nothing to show for their efforts as Arroyo made several big stops.
Two of his most memorable saves came off of set pieces by Sean Davis. He denied Veron's effort off a corner kick in the eighth minute and saved Aurelien Collin's attempt seven minutes later.
Arroyo was called on again in the 39th minute, when he knocked away a shot on the right flank by the onrushing Mike Grella.
In a mirror image to the first half, the visitor pushed forward and made the Red Bulls sweat in the final half. Striker Rodolfo Zelaya desperately tried to get Alianza on the scoreboard with close-range shots that were saved by goalkeeper Luis Robles in the 59th and 62nd minutes.
Zelaya continued to be a thorn in New York’s side, forcing Robles to save spectacularly his diving header from point-blank range in the 72nd minute.
In the 79th minute, Arroyo denied Veron’s close-range header from Kljestan’s right-wing cross.
- Alianza has conceded exactly one goal in each of its five all-time SCCL games
- Kljestan has a team-best two goals in 2016/17 SCCL
- New York Red Bulls are unbeaten in four all-time SCCL games against Salvadoran opposition (2-2-0).