Toronto FC players celebrate Mista’s goal just beforehalf-time
Toronto FC knocked off one of the best ranked clubs in the CONCACAF region, upsetting Mexico’s Club Deportivo Cruz Azul 2-1 in the first match for both clubs in the group stage of the Champions League on Tuesday night at BMO Field.
Despite missing forwards Chad Barrett and Maicon Santos due to injury, Toronto wasted no time getting on the score sheet netting a goal in the third minute of the game. Midfielder Martin Saric followed up a rebound on a header by Mista to put a header of his own past Cruz Azul goalkeeper Yosgart Gutierrez to make it 1-0.
The goal was Saric’s first as a member of TFC in what was also his first game back since recovering from a leg injury suffered during Toronto’s 1-0 MLS win over Colorado Rapids on July 10.
Jon Conway was making only his second start in goal for the Reds this season in place of Stefan Frei, who was given the night off. Conway came up with a big save on a one-timed shot by Alejandro Vela in the 40th minute by getting down to block the shot at the right post.
TFC had several more opportunities in the first half and were rewarded with their hard work just before half-time. In the 44th minute, Mista fired a well-placed shot on goal that was deflected by Gutierrez’s outstretched hand, but luckily the ball still managed to sneak its way inside the post to give the Reds a 2-0 advantage.
Cruz Azul coach, Enrique Meza, decided to rest many of his starters but changed his tune with his team down 2-0 at the half. Meza brought on two of his star players Gerardo Torrado, who represented Mexico in the World Cup, and Argentine Christian Gimenez in the 46th minute to help kick-start his team’s offence.
Conway would come up with another great save on a shot by Gimenez from over 20 yards out by diving to his right and forcing the ball out for a corner kick in the 55th minute. But Gimenez would get his revenge in the 90th minute on a well-placed free kick that curled over the wall, hitting the post and rolled past a helpless Conway to make it 2-1.
Despite three extra minutes being added on to the game, Toronto would hang on to win the game 2-1 and remain undefeated at home this season in all competitions sporting an impressive record of 10-0-4.
La Maquina Celeste
Goal-scorer Martin Saric keeps the ball away from Cruz Auzlstriker Gerardo Torrado in the second half
Playing out of Mexico City, Cruz Azul are one of the biggest and most successful teams in Mexico having won the Primera Division eight times, with their last title coming in 1997. Only Guadalajara (11), America (10) and Toluca (9) have won more Mexican titles.
Cruz Azul is also the most successful team to ever play in the annual football championship for clubs in the CONCACAF region (North America, Central American and the Caribbean) having won the tournament a record 5 times. Also known as La Maquina Celeste (The Celestial Locomotive) the Mexican club also finished as the runner-up in each of the past two tournaments losing to Mexican rivals Club Atlante and Club Pachuca, respectively.
TFC coach, Preki, said his team prepared all week for this match and came out ready to play – as was evident by their quick goal in the opening minutes and great first half overall.
Dwayne De Rosario strikes the ball towards the Cruz Azulgoal
“We prepared our group the whole week that we’re playing against one of the toughest teams, if not the toughest team in CONCACAF group stages right now and we knew what’s at task,” said Preki. “The group, really, really responded good and we really competed hard for 90 minutes. I thought it was a good game, a fair game. I thought we deserved to win tonight.”
Meza gave lots of credit to TFC in their victory, especially the defense and Conway in goal.
“A well deserved victory for the home team with the two goals,” said Meza through a translator. “I think we had a late reaction in the game, if we had an earlier reaction perhaps the game would have been a little different”
“We had some good chances towards the end of the second half, however, I give credit to the defence by Toronto, especially the goalkeeper for his performance and in the second half they didn’t have much trouble on their end. But the effort wasn’t enough so we’re leaving with the sour taste in the mouth that it just wasn’t enough to get the game.”
Captain Dwayne De Rosario was impressed with the team’s victory, especially against such a great team like Cruz Azul which bodes well for the Reds as the tournament progresses.
“Getting the three points for us was huge,” said De Rosario. “If we continue this good run in this tournament I think we’ll be just fine. To beat a team like Cruz Azul in the first game I think was a great start to a very competitive tournament.”
Toronto FC (1-0-0) Jon Conway, Maksim Usanov, Adrian Cann, Nana Attakora, Raivis, Hscanovics, Nick LaBrocca, Martin Saric (Jacob Peterson 65’), Julian de Guzman, Dwayne De Rosario, O’Brian White (Fuad Ibrahim 78), Mista (Joseph Nane 67’)
Subs not used: Milos Kocic, Gabe Gala, Dan Gargan, Ty Harden
Cruz Azul (0-1-0) Fausto Pinto, Julio Cesar Dominguez, Alejandro Castro, Horacio Cervantes, Gonzalo Pineda (Gerardo Torrado 46’), Cesar Villaluz, Hector Guitierrez (Javier Orozoco 63’), Maximilliano Biancucchi, Alejandro Vela (Christian Gimenez 46’), Emmanuel Villa
Subs not used: Jose De Jesus Corona, Joel Huiqui, Alam Bello, Rogelio Chavez
TOR: Martin Saric 3’
TOR: Mista (Raivis Hscanovics, O’Brian White) 44’
CAZ: Christian Giminez 89’
CAZ: Hector Guitierrez (Reckless Tackle) 21’
TOR: Jacob Peterson (Delaying a Restart) 73’
CAZ: Fausto Pinto (Reckless Tackle) 76’
CAZ: Christian Giminez (Unsporting Behaviour) 89’
TOR: Dwayne De Rosario (Unsporting Behaviour) 93’+
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