ESTELI, Nicaragua – Bayron Mendez struck one minute into the second half to lift visiting Olimpia to a 1-0 victory over Real Esteli in a Group 2 match in the CONCACAF Champions League Wednesday at the Estadio Independencia.
Following a scoreless first half in which the host enjoyed some lengthy spells of excellent football, Olimpia went in front almost immediately out of the locker room as Mendez slotted past Justo Lorente from eight meters to put the Honduran side ahead.
Like seven of Real Esteli’s previous nine all-time matches in the competition, the encounter was decided by one goal or less.
El Tren del Norte had more of the ball after the goal, but Olimpia bore down defensively to allow only the occasional shot from distance.
One of those chances, though, nearly resulted in a 77th minute equalizer. Second-half substitute Leandro Santos’ low, bouncing shot on frame forced Olimpia goalkeeper Noel Valladares to dive to his left to parry the ball away for a corner kick.
Four minutes from full time, Rudel Calero found himself open in front of the goal only to hammer his effort off the crossbar.
Real Esteli had opportunities in the first half, but couldn’t convert its endeavor into goals.
In the 13th minute, Samuel Wilson latched onto a deflected shot, took the ball off his chest, but his close range shot was saved by Valladares.
A little more than 10 minutes later, Manuel Rosas received a short corner kick and sent a deep ball toward the back post, but he was unable to connect with Calero.
Olimpia, one of only two teams to compete in all six editions of the CONCACAF Champions League – Isidro Metapan is the other – booked its ticket into this year’s tournament by winning both the Honduran Apertura and Clausura championships.
The Lions snapped a four-match winless streak away from home in Champions League matches and are now unbeaten in five of its last six in the competition.
Olimpia, now level on points with Sporting Kansas City, will host the Major League Soccer squad in Tegucigalpa on August 27. Real Esteli returns to Champions League play with a return match against Sporting on September 17.