Ariel Rodriguez (pictured) celebrates after scoring one of his three goals in Saprissa's 3-0 CONCACAF Champions League win over visiting Real Esteli on August 26, 2014, in San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Ariel Rodriguez netted a hat-trick to lift Saprissa (1-1-0, 4 points) to a 3-0 win over Real Esteli (0-2-1, 2 points) in a Group 2 match in the CONCACAF Champions League at Estadio Nacional on Tuesday night.
The 24-year-old, who has scored all four of the Monstruo Morado’s goals in the competition, put the host in front on 18 minutes. The Costa Rican forward capitalized on an Esteli turnover near midfield, played a quick ball to Diego Estrada, who returned the favor. Without losing stride, Rodriguez hammered a shot inside the far post from 27 yards out.
In the 74th minute, Rodriguez was at his opportunistic best. After goalkeeper Justo Lorente was unable to corral a cross in front of his net, second half substitute Marvin Angulo put the ball back in front of goal where Rodriguez tapped in.
Rodriguez put the game away with his third one minute from full time, latching onto a cross by Jordan Smith and glancing a header downward past Lorente from the edge of the six-yard box.
Saprissa which is unbeaten in six straight CCL home games, heads to the USA to take on Sporting Kansas City (0-1-0, 1 point) on September 18. Real Esteli travels to Kansas City five days later.