Daniel Royer scored the Red Bulls’ second goal. (Photo courtesy of MLS)
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — The Red Bulls find themselves in the drivers seat entering the second leg of their Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 series.
New York struck for two precious away goals en route to a 2-0 first-leg win over Atletico Pantoja at Estadio Felix Sanchez Wednesday night.
The visitors rode an own goal and a Daniel Royer score to victory as they dominated the match.
The second leg is set for Red Bull Arena Wednesday, Feb. 27 and New York realizes that the Dominican Republic champions will need to score two goals in that encounter and hold their foes none just to tie the match.
After a rather frustrating opening half, the Red Bulls finally found the back of the net on a broken play that began with a Marc Rzatkowski corner kick. While the hosts had trouble clearing the ball out of the attacking zone, Wright-Phillips attempted a half volley that went off the face of goalkeeper Odalis Baez and then defender Walnes Innocent in the 40th minute.
At first, BWP was awarded the goal before it was changed to an own goal just before the interval. It didn’t change the score as the Red Bulls went into their locker room with the lead.
New York had several close encounters in front of the goal but Baez managed to thwart its attempts. That included diving to his left to knock away Royer’s attempt in the 25th minute and batting away another attempt by the Austrian midfielder from point-blank range five minutes later.
Baez also had some help from his defense as Kaku’s shot was knocked away in the 27th minute.
The Red Bulls came close to doubling their advantage in the 58th minute, but Wright-Phillips was called for a handball.
Match Recap: Red Bulls Top Atlético Pantoja, 2-0, in Leg 1 https://win.gs/2txwR4u
Posted by New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Video courtesy of the Red Bulls’ Facebook Page
Royer got a deserved goal in the 67th minute as Kaku, from the right flank, sent a looping pass to the midfielder on the opposite end of the penalty area. Royer gathered, took a couple of steps and beat Baez from close range for a two-goal margin.
Within a 30-second span in the 85th minute, the Red Bulls twice came within adding to their total as Rzatkowski fired a shot that grazed the right crossbar before second-half substitute Brian White tried to chip the keeper from close range.
Barely a minute into stoppage time, Jean Carlos Lopez almost put one on the board for the hosts but he fired his attemput just over the crossbar and goalkeeper Luis Robles.
Left back Kemar Lawrence, recovering from a knee injury, came on at halftime to replace the injured Connor Lade. The former St. John’s University standout was forced from the game with an apparent head injury suffered while going up for an air ball in the 34th minute.
Bronx resident Omir Fernandez, a 20-year-old Homegrown Player who performed at Wake Forest University, made his Red Bulls debut, coming on for Alex Muyl in the 74th minute.