The early qualifying rounds of the 2022-23 Champions League are already underway, with Reykjavic’s American Kyle McLagan scoring the opening goal in a blow-out qualifying win over Estonians FCI Levadia.
FCI Levadia 1 – 6 Vikingur Reykjavik
The Icelandic champions put on a dominant display on their trip to Estonia, overcoming an early setback to put six goals past their overwhelmed hosts to advance in the early preliminary qualifying round of the 2022-23 Champions League.
Barely three weeks after Real Madrid were crowned winners of the 2021-22 edition, the early rounds of qualification for the subsequent season already kicked off on Tuesday night, once again in the form of a single-knockout, mini-tournament amongst the teams from the four lowest-ranked federations.
26 year-old American defender Kyle McLagan, who joined the reigning Icelandic champions before the start of their current spring/summer season, scored what was the early equalizing goal, paving the way for a clear win that saw them momentarily continue their European run.
The hosts were first on the board after only five minutes, after a Halldor Sigurdsson foul in the area led to a penalty, which former Georgian international Zakaria Beglarisvili converted from the spot.
The Vikings needed only five minutes to pull even, and never looked back after clenching momentum to their side.
Following a foul by the Estonians in the left flank, American-born Salvadorian international Pablo Punyed lofted a free kick towards the middle of the six-yard box, which McLagan one-timed on a hop just inside the left post for the 1-0 lead.
Three minutes before the half-hour, the visitors were celebrating the lead when a cross from deep in the right by David Atlason flew all the way to the far upper edge of the six-yard box, where Kristall Mani Ingason struck a low shot just inside the far corner.
One minute into first-half injury time, a chaotic corner saw the Vikings add a third, after Levadia keeper Karl Andre Vallner tried to kick the ball to safety at the right post, only to see it directly deflected back into the net by Halldor Smari Sigurdsson for the 3-1 halftime lead.
Punyed did fine work to set up the team’s fifth goal, evading several defenders to break into the right side of the area before lofting a short cross to Nikolaj Hansen, who made easy work of his short-range volley for the 4-1 lead.
Helgi Gudjonsson added a fifth in the 71st minute with an easy finish near the right post following a botched headed clearance by a Levadia defender, then Julius Magnusson finished the blow-out six minutes later following another instance of lax defending by the hosts.
McLagan and Vikingur have a quick turnaround, and will be forced to travel to the Spain-France border, where they will face Andorran champions Inter Club d’Escaldes on Friday night, who defeated the San Marino Champions SP La Fiorita on Tuesday.
The winner of Friday’s game will progress to the official first qualifying round of the 2022-23 Champions League, where they play Romain Gall’s Malmö FF over two legs in early-July.
While McLagan and Vikingur are likely favorites against the Andorrans, they will face a considerably tougher climb should they advance to face the Swedish champions.