Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Red Bulls Roll Past Pantoja To Move On In Champions League

Kaku (10, at right) of the Red Bulls looks to make a play. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Red Bulls beat Club Atletico Pantoja of the Dominican Republic, 3-0, on Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena in the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16. Combined with the Red Bulls' 2-0 win last Wednesday at Pantoja, they advance on a 5-0 aggregate.

The Red Bulls move on to play Santos Laguna of Mexico in the Quarterfinals, with the first leg on Tuesday, March 5 at 8:00 p.m. at Red Bull Arena. Santos Laguna advanced on an 11-2 aggregate over CD Marathon.

The Red Bulls extended their home scoreless streak across all competitions to eight matches and 757 minutes. They also extended their unbeaten Champions League streak at Red Bull Arena to nine matches (6-0-3) since Red Bull Arena was constructed in 2010.

It didn't take long for the Red Bulls to get going in this one, as Kaku fired off a rocket from the top right corner of the box and it was just wide left. In the 16th minute, Daniel Royer had a great chance from the top of the box, as he fired off a rocket, but it was right at the Pantoja goalkeeper Pascual Ramirez. A minute later, Bradley Wright-Phillips came down the center of the field and he fired one that just missed the left side of the net.

The Red Bulls broke through in the 27th minute when Sean Davis, art the top of the box, headed one off the turf and in to make it 1-0.

Soon after, in the 32nd minute, Connor Lade was taken down inside the box, and the Red Bulls were awarded a penalty kick. Daniel Royer took the PK and buried it to make it 2-0 and give them a commanding 4-0 lead in aggregate at the time.

In the second half, Andreas Ivan, who came on in the 67th minute, intercepted a ball atop the 18-yard box and finished to the far post to make it 3-0 in the 75th minute. This was Ivan's first career goal for the Red Bulls in all competitions.

Red Bulls goalkeeper and Captain Luis Robles made one save for his second consecutive shutout of the tournament and seventh career SCCL clean sheet.

Red Bulls Head Coach Chris Armas said of the win, "Every round of the competition, you want to move on, so we checked off one box, keep moving guys into fitness and sharpness and tactically understand where we are, check that box. We wanted to see if we can limit their chances and, which was going to be speed on counterattacks, and I think we did that for the most part, which is a tough test. We were trying to create a lot of chances in different ways, and we did that. Would we have liked to score more goals and to finish off some plays? Yeah, but I think in terms of creating those chances and putting things on our terms, we accomplished that.

"The most important thing, I think, was to have the right mentality in a series like this and to start the year off with professional performances, and that was impressive from the guys."

Massapequa, New York, native and 2019 MLS SuperDraft Second Round Pick Sean Nealis entered in the 54th minute to make his professional debut.

Academy Product Kyle Duncan entered the match in the 59th minute, replacing Michael Amir Murillo. It was the first game action for Duncan since suffering a knee injury during the Orlando City SC match on March 31, 2018.

The Red Bulls open their MLS season at the Columbus Crew on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

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