Central F.C Falls to LA Galaxy in Champions League Opener

CARSON, California – The LA Galaxy got its 2015/16 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League (SCCL) campaign off to a bright start with a 5-1 win over visiting Central FC on Thursday at the StubHub Center.

Five players scored for the host in Group D encounter, including Mexico international Giovani dos Santos in his club debut.  Alan Gordon, Raul Mendiola, Gyasi Zardes and Ignacio Maganto also found the back of the net.

Ataullah Guerra converted a penalty kick for tournament debutant Central, which was playing its first game since winning the Caribbean club championship in May.

 The evening got off to a wild start as each team struck in the opening six minutes.

Gordon got things going in the fourth minute, heading home at the far post off Zardes’ cross from the right side of the box. 

Only two minutes later, Central equalized on Guerra's kick from the spot after referee Christopher Reid ruled that Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe fouled Willis Plaza in the box.

The current MLS champion regained the lead for good in the 32nd minute as Mika Vayrynen sent a lead pass to an onrushing Mendiola, who remained onside with Gordon to create a two-man break.  Mendiola rounded goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams on the right side and tapped the ball into an empty net for a 2-1 advantage.

LA suffered a loss, however, when Williams crashed into Mendiola just outside the penalty area.  The goalkeeper received a yellow card, while Mendiola was taken off on a stretcher and was replaced by Sebastian Lletget in the 40th minute.

 The host extended its lead to 3-1 in the 55th minute when defender Keion Goodridge took down Gordon in the box.  Zardes powered his penalty into the upper right corner past Williams for his first career SCCL goal.

 After dos Santos came on for Gordon in the 57th minute, he gave the Galaxy faithful more reason to celebrate in the 76th minute, slipping Rafael Garcia's left-wing feed into the far right corner for a 4-1 bulge.

Dos Santos turned playmaker in the 84th minute, setting up Maganto just outside the box and paving the way for the 23-year-old’s first SCCL tally.