Salt Lake fired 26 shots on nine-man Arabe Unido.

Salt Lake Keeps Pace With TFC In Group A

SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake’s initiation into Champions League play started out on the wrong foot, but they managed to pick up the full three points with a 2-1 win over Panama side Árabe Unido at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday.

Alvaro Saborio tallied a brace, which included a stoppage-time penalty kick after Nelson Gonzalez was tumbled in the box. The Panamanian visitors finished the match with just nine men following a toughly contested affair.

Árabe Unido open the game matching Real Salt Lake’s 4-4-2 with a 3-3-4 formation that morphed into a 4-5-1 on the defensive side of the ball. And they spent plenty of time on the defensive side of the ball in the opening minutes.

However, it was the visitors who opened scoring. The goal came against the run of play following a well-played through-ball to Armando Cooper. The Árabe Unido captain appeared to be in free on RSL ‘keeper Nick Rimando; however, defender Nat Borchers arrived late and got a leg in front of the ball, which created a deflection that Rimando was unprepared to handle. The ball found its way into the net to give the visitors a surprising lead.

The game would take another strange twist a few minutes later when defender Nahil Carroll received a straight red for a studs-up tackle on RSL captain Kyle Beckerman. From that point on it appeared that Árabe Unido had one objective: to kill the game off.

However, in the 45th minute, Real Salt Lake earned the equalizer when Chris Wingert put a long cross into the box that found the head of striker Saborío, who nodded the hosts level just seconds before the break.

Real Salt Lake then dominated the possession in a second half littered with numerous injuries, both real and feigned, and a number of disciplinary cards.

Despite being a man down, the visitors managed to keep RSL at bay for the duration of the second half—at least in regulation time. Minutes into stoppage time—nine minutes were added on—Real Salt Lake earned awarded a penalty kick after Gonzalez was nudged from behind just inside the box.

Saborío stepped up to take the spot-kick to earn a brace—and a win for RSL in their first-ever Champions League match.

Link to the full version of this article on MLSsoccer.com.