It was a night of firsts for NYCFC in Costa Rica, as new Head Coach Ronny Deila led the Boys in Blue into their first match on the continental stage.
The Norwegian named a familiar XI comprised of returning players from the team’s Eastern Conference topping 2019, including James Sands, the first Homegrown player in Club history, who started at the base of midfield.
Maxi Moralez started the night on the bench, while Jesus Medina was given the opportunity to start and it the Paraguayan who had the night’s first real goalscoring opportunity.
Héber created it, peeling off to the left wing and cutting the ball back for Parks to touch on, but San Carlos goalkeeper Pemberton was there to smother the loose ball at Medina’s feet.
City would not be denied a reward for their dominant start and it was no surprise that Matarrita and Héber were involved, combining sublimely for the opening goal on 13’.
On his old stomping ground, Mata supplied the cross from the left and our Brazilian no.9 did the rest, touching the ball under Pemberton to make it 1-0.
NYC stayed on the front foot with Medina again going close on 21' on a curling shot from the right corner of the penalty box which almost dipped under the bar and on 34', Alex Ring landed a header on the roof of the net, missing the target by inches.
However, the visitors would extend their lead on 34' and it was the irrepressible Héber who doubled his tally for the night.
This time, the cross came from the other full-back, with Anton Tinnerholm bombing down the right side and picking out his Brazilian teammate, who swept in his shot off inside of the far post.
AD San Carlos hit back just before the halftime whistle through Jorman Aguilar to give themselves a lift at a timely moment but Ronny Deila will have been the more satisfied Head Coach at the break after watching his side cause problems for the hosts throughout the 45'.
NYCFC were given the opportunity to restore their two-goal lead early in the second half when a San Carlos player handled in the penalty area and Héber didn't pass up the chance to score the Club's first-ever Champions League hat-trick and the fourth in Club history, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot.
Alexander Callens extended the lead to 4-1 with a poke home from a corner on 61', before Marcos Mena replied within two minutes to make it 4-2 to NYCFC as the game grew more open and attacking.
Omar Browne closed the deficit again on 78' with a stunning strike from distance which drew Deila's men back to 4-3 but City would have the last word in stoppage-time when Alexandru Mitriță pounced after Maxi Moralez saw a late penalty saved.
With five away goals to take into the second leg next Wednesday, NYCFC will be favorites to advance but Ronny will be warning his men that it's only halftime in this tie.
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