CONCACAF: Champions League (+video)
It’s been another crucial round of matches in the CONCACAF Champions League with a couple of teams on the verge of confirming their places in the quarter-finals of the tournament. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews all the action from Matchday 4 of the group stages:
Matchday 4 got under way on Tuesday night with a Group A encounter between Cruz Azul and Canadian champions Toronto FC. Cruz Azul were determined to gain revenge on the Canadians for their Matchday 1 defeat in Toronto and the Mexicans certainly took the game to the visitors. Toronto, however, were in no mood to gift three points to their hosts and managed to fight their way to a useful point with neither side hitting the back of the net. This gave Real Salt Lake the opportunity to overtake Cruz Azul into first in the table but they had to overcome the challenge from Arabe Unido in Panama City. Williams Aguilar gave the home side the lead after just two minutes but Real got over the early setback and went in 3-1 up at the break with a brace from Will Johnson and an Álvaro Saborío strike putting the Salt Lake City side on their way to three points. A 53rd minute penalty allowed Arabe Unido the chance to reduce the deficit and Mario Angulo hit the back of the net to give the home side a chance. The Americans held out for the win and they now top the group with nine points from four games, Cruz Azul two points behind.
Columbus Crew scraped a 1-0 victory at home to Santos Laguna, their nearest challengers for the top of Group B. Andrés Mendoza picked the ball up just outside Santos’ penalty area and drove the ball home past keeper Miguel Gonzalez to give the MLS outfit the three points to take the team to the top of the standings and virtually guarantee progress to the next round. The other match took place on Thursday night with Municipal and Joe Public hoping to win in order to give themselves a fighting chance of finishing second. An exciting five goal encounter was decided by Sergio Guevara whose 90th minute winner was enough to give Municipal the crucial 3-2 win.
WATCH COLUMBUS CREW v SANTOS LAGUNA HIGHLIGHTS HERE:
An amazing game featured prominently in Group C with Mexicans Monterrey CF going behind to two first half goals from Seattle Sounders. An own goal from Sergio Pérez and a Michael Fucito goal sixty seconds before half-time gave Seattle hope that their first three points of the campaign were on their way to the bank. However the American side lost the plot and proceeded to let in three goals in the space of four second half minutes and allow Monterrey to regain the advantage. Aldo de Nigris pulled a goal back on 74 minutes and there was virtually no time for Seattle to get their breath back before Humberto Suazo equalized sixty seconds later. Seattle’s inexperience at this level began to tell as they allowed a third goal into the back of the net on 78 minutes as Monterrey won a penalty which was finished by Luis Pérez to turn the game completely on its head. The other game saw Hondurans C.D. Marathón claim their second victory of the tournament with a 2-1 win over Costa Rica’s Deportivo Saprissa. Mario René Berrios and an own goal from Esteban Sarias gave the home side a 2-0 lead before Saprissa pulled one back through Jairo Arrieta but the win allowed Marathón to join Saprissa on six points in the fight for second spot. Monterrey have effectively already qualifed for the quarter-finals as they maintain their 100% record in the competition.
WATCH MONTERREY CF v SEATTLE SOUNDERS HIGHLIGHTS HERE:
A disappointing goalless draw on Wednesday evening between FAS of El Salvador and Caribbean champions Puerto Rico Islanders meant that Mexicans Toluca FC could as good as seal their quarter-final place with a win against Olimpia in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. However it didn’t go to plan for Toluca who went down to a 2-1 defeat and but they can still guarantee qualification on Matchday 5 which takes place next week.