PANAMA CITY - Claudio Labarinas scored a goal in each half to lead Marathon over Tauro FC of Panama 3-0 on Wednesday, sending the Honduran side home with a distinct advantage for the second leg of their Preliminary Round series in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Labarinas converted a 25th-minute penalty, added a second goal in the 59th, and Milton Palacios also scored in the 35th to put Marathon on the verge of the Group Stage. It will host the return leg on August 4 at Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where it has won four straight in the Champions League and eight of nine over the past two years.
It has outscored its opponents 18-4 at home in the Champions League.
This is the second time Marathon, which has reached the quarterfinals in each of the Champions League's first two seasons, has had to get through the Preliminary Round. It outlasted Metapan of El Salvador two years ago.
Played in intermittent light rain, unlike the deluge that soaked Tuesday's match between San Francisco and Cruz Azul in La Chorrera, neither side created much during the first 20 minutes.
But Marathon went ahead when Tauro's Eduardo Dasent tried to dribble wide out of his own and penalty and was challenged by Mario Berrios. Tauro midfielder Leonel Parris came in with a two-foot sliding tackle that brought down Berrios and immediately drew the signal for a penalty, which Labarinas converted.
Palacios added the insurance when he ran onto a ball behind the defense by Randy Diamond, took one touch into the area and beat keeper Varcan Sterling with a right-footed effort inside the right post.
Tauro, which had few opportunities in the first half, looked a little more dangerous in the first 10 minutes of the second half with Luis Gabriel Renteria twice getting opportunities but shooting wide.
Marathon squelched any thoughts of a rally when Berrios served a ball from just inside his own half to Labarinas, who took one touch to just outside the area and beat Sterling - who had come off his line - with a low, rolling shot.
The match -- which saw a total of 23 fouls and six yellow cards (four issued to Tauro) -- was the first competitive game for both teams since their league seasons finished in April. Marathon won't begin its Apertura season until August 8, while Tauro opens against fellow Champions League qualifier Arabe Unido on Saturday.
The winner on aggregate will advance to Group C with Monterrey, Saprissa and the winner between the Seattle Sounders and Metapan.