Action from the CONCACAF Champions League game between Real Esteli and visiting Saprissa (white jersey) on August 6, 2014, at the Estadio Independencia in Esteli, NIcaragua. (Photo: www.pinolerosports.com)
ESTELI, Nicaragua – Real Esteli’s bid for a first-ever win in the CONCACAF Champions League came up short on Wednesday and it had to settle for a 1-1 draw with visiting Group 2 foe Saprissa at the Estadio Independencia.
The Nicaraguan powerhouse is now winless in 13 all-time games in the competition with seven of its last eight outings being decided by one goal or fewer.
After the host grabbed an early 1-0 lead, Ariel Rodriguez leveled in the 65th minute. A blocked shot by Saprissa’s Diego Estrada fell to teammate Rafael Morales inside the box. His follow-up bounced off Esteli defender Felix Zeledon in front of the goal and Rodriguez swooped in to slot home from the edge of the six-yard box.
Only 10 minutes earlier, Esteli’s Eduardo Praes heroically saved a David Ramirez attempt off the line with a lunging slide to prevent an earlier equalizer.
Esteli took the lead in the 10th minute through a brilliant effort by Rodrigo Valiente.
From the left, Juan Barrera’s pass to the Uruguayan was blocked by a Saprissa defender. The ball rolled to Valiente, who took a touch towards the middle and then found the back of the net with a curling right footer from 28-yards out beyond diving goalkeeper Dany Carvajal.
Saprissa pushed for the game-winner and produced two solid opportunities. The best of which came in the 70th minute, when Esteli goalkeeper Justo Lorente acrobatically tipped a Ramirez effort over the crossbar.
Real Esteli returns to action on August 19, when it hosts MLS champion Sporting Kansas City. Saprissa is idle until another meeting with Esteli on August 26.
To view the Real Estelí vs Saprissa Highlights, click here.