By RYAN TOLMICH
Despite scoring only a single goal thus far in MLS play, Sporting KC’s Toni Dovale has proven to be quite the finisher in CONCACAF Champions League action.
The Spanish winger scored a pair of goals, his second and third in two CCL games, as Sporting KC topped Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa, 3-1, Thursday at Sporting Park.
Sporting KC opened the scoring just 12 minutes in, as midfielder Benny Feilhaber was taken down in the box by Saprissa goalkeeper Danny Carvajal, earning the hosts a penalty kick. Leading scorer Dom Dwyer converted from the penalty spot, netting his 20th goal of the season in all competitions and his fourth in as many games.
Saprissa responded just 16 minutes later via Juan Bustos, who tied the game at one with a goal in the 28th minute by smashing home a stunning first-time volley.
Sporting KC nearly took the lead in the 40th minute by way of Dywer, but Carvajal’s goal-line heroics kept the ball in play, while Toni’s ensuing attempt off the rebound caromed off the post.
Toni didn’t have to wait much longer to find the back of the net, restoring his side’s advantage in the 69th minute.
The sequence was kick-started by midfielder Graham Zusi, who played a looping ball to Igor Juliao toward the right side of the box. The Brazilian defender sent in a one-touch cross to Toni, who struck a first-time volley of his own to push the score to 2-1.
Toni added an insurance goal just seven minutes later by smashing home a Dwyer cross on the far post, earning his side a crucial three points in a competitive CCL group.
With the victory, Sporting KC ties Saprissa atop Group 2. However, Sporting KC have a game in hand on their Costa Rican counterparts, having only played two games thus far.
Sporting KC’s next CCL action comes Sept. 23 when the MLS side takes on Real Esteli, which has picked up two points in three games thus far.
Here are the match highlights: