Action from the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League game between the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps (blue jersey) and Central FC on August 2, 2016, in Couva, Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo: Caribbean Action Images)
COUVA, Trinidad & Tobago -- Cristian Techera scored in the first-half and the Vancouver Whitecaps launched the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League with a 1-0 victory over host Central FC in Group C on Tuesday night at Ato Boldon Stadium.
Spencer Richey made five saves for the Whitecaps (1W-0L-0D, 3 points), who secured their first-ever SCCL road victory after three attempts in a match between teams making their second appearances in the tournament.
At 15-years and nine-months old, Alphonso Davies made history when he came on as a second-half substitute for the visitor, becoming perhaps the youngest player ever to feature in a SCCL match.
Central FC (0-0-1, 0) outshot Vancouver, 12-8, but couldn’t convert that advantage into dangerous scoring opportunities, especially after halftime.
It was the Trinidad side’s first home loss in the competition after a win and a draw in last year’s group stage. The Sharks host Sporting Kansas City in Week 2 on August 16, before finishing its group stage with two road matches.
Techera was active down the left wing throughout the opening half and was rewarded for his efforts in the 34th minute.
Erik Hurtado created the opening when he dashed past two Central defenders on the left side of the penalty area. Then he dragged a cross back for Techera to drive a deflected shot off a defender on the goal line and into the net.
Central’s best chance of the half came deep into stoppage time, when Richey dove to his right, denying Leston Paul’s blast from the edge of the penalty area. A Vancouver defender lunged just in time to deny Darren Mitchell’s rebound attempt from the left.
Five minutes after halftime, Nathaniel Garcia also came close for the current Caribbean champion, only for his 25-yard attempt to blaze just over the crossbar.
Vancouver looked more likely to score late as goalkeeper Javon Sample reacting well to thwart Davies and Kianz Froese in the closing stages.