Two goals from Lester Blanco was the difference in Metapan, El Salvador Thursday evening, as Isidro Metapan defeated Pumas UNAM 2-1 in the first leg of the quarterfinal tie. Having the edge heading into the second leg next week in Mexico City will give Metapan confidence but the tie is far from decided.
The game play was rather even over the night, although Metapan was able to link up better in the offensive third and get clear chances on goal. But Blanco really made the difference, as the young striker put Metapan on the board in the 27th minute. He got a ball in the box, then dribbled away from three Pumas defenders, turned and shot it to the far post. It was a great piece of skill and the hosts had the lead.
Metapan doubled their lead early in the second half, when Blanco headed the ball in off a corner kick while backpedaling to get to the ball. Although his skill wasn't on display to the same extent for this goal, it was still wonderful awareness on his part to get to the right place to head that ball in.
Pumas did get an away goal in the match, and as we know, those can often make the difference in a two-leg matchup. In the 67th minute, Eduardo Herrera received a ball that fell straight to his feet in the box off a flicked header. He turned toward goal and scored easily. In general, Pumas were not particularly sharp on the night, and they will be on the lookout for Blanco in next week's match. But Herrera's goal could ultimately prove crucial in advancing to the semifinals.
Metapan will advance to the semis if they win in Mexico City, or if they draw. Pumas will advance if they win by more than two goals. If Pumas win 2-1 next week, the score will be knotted and the teams will have to play extra time. Although the Salvadorean side has an edge at this point, next week's game should be very competitive.