GUATEMALA CITY - Motagua advanced to the Group Stage of the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time Thursday, qualifying despite losing 2-0 to Municipal.
After having been eliminated by Toronto FC last year, Motagua advanced on 4-2 aggregate and will join the Los Angeles Galaxy, Alajuelense and Morelia in Group A.
Gonzalo Romero scored a pair of first-half goals, including a penalty, but Municipal couldn't overcome the lopsided first-leg loss and were denied a third trip into the league phase of the competition.
Municipal took the initiative early, forcing Motagua keeper Donaldo Morales into a pair of acrobatic saves, slapping a shot onto the bar by Pedro Samayoa onto the bar in the third and another over the bar by Cristian Noriega in the 15th.
Motagua seemed content to counter and created its own chances, getting a short-range header in the fifth minute and 35-meter blast from Guillermo "Pando" Ramirez in the 27th that Municipal keeper Cristian Alvarez had to dive right to punch away.
Alvarez also had a shaky moment four minutes earlier, fumbling Amado Guevara's corner kick and almost falling back into his own net.
Municipal finally went ahead in the 32nd when Romero traded a set of quick touches with Mario Rodriguez at the top of the Motagua area and finished with a final left-footed tap between the legs of Morales.
The Guatemalan side seemed on schedule for an equalizing result when Romero converted his penalty attempt three minutes before halftime, scoring when Motagua's Johnny Leveron received a yellow for an extended leg that tripped Evandro Ferreira as he dribbled into the left side of the penalty area.
Both sides had chances in the second half, with Municipal pushing forward for the aggregate tying scores and Motagua seeking an away goal that would virtually seal its victory.
Alvarez had to come off his line to block Ramirez, who was bearing down from the left side, at the corner of the six-yard box in the 69th minute.
Municipal's most promising moment came when Rodriguez was able to thread a low ball from the right side into the middle of the area, but Oscar Isaula shot high from inside the six with no defender near him.
Motagua, which has yet to score in two away matches in the Champions League, will start the Group Stage with a pair of away matches, at the Los Angeles Galaxy on August 16 and then travel to Mexico to face Morelia nine days later.