NEWS
08/03/2011 12:04 EDT | Updated 10/02/2011 05:12 EDT

Toronto FC downs Real Esteli 2-1 to advance in CONCACAF Champions League play

ESTELI, Nicaragua - Ryan Johnson scored twice as Toronto FC defeated Real Esteli of Nicaragua 2-1 on Tuesday night in CONCACAF Champions League preliminary-round play.

With the victory, Toronto advances to the group stage 4-2 on aggregate in the home-and-away series.

With humid temperatures reaching 28 C, players were forced to navigate an unruly pitch at the 4,800-seat Estadio Independencia, with long grass and bumps making the play unpredictable.

Johnson made it 2-1 early in the second half after an Esteli defensive gaffe. Goalkeeper Carlos Mendieta gave the ball away just outside the box to Johnson, who made no mistake as he slotted it home in the 47th.

Real Esteli levelled the game just before halftime. Toronto defender Andy Iro was called on a hand ball in the area and Manuel Rosas converted the penalty with a left-footed shot to the bottom left corner that sent Toronto 'keeper Milos Kocic to the wrong way.

Johnson opened the scoring in the 37th with left-footed volley from just outside the 18-yard box that struck the top corner as Mendieta watched helplessly.

Johnson, a Jamaican international midfielder-forward, was acquired in a trade with San Jose last month.

It was Toronto FC's first road win in CONCACAF Champions League play.

The Reds now move into the group stage of the tournament, joining Mexico's Pumas, Panama's Tauro and either FC Dallas or El Salvador's Alianza in Group C. FC Dallas have a 1-0 lead heading into the series finale on Wednesday night at Pizza Hut Park.

Toronto reached the group stage last year but failed to advance to the knockout round.