Posted on October 24, 2012
TORREON, Mexico — Santos Laguna is heading back to the knockout round of the CONCACAF Champions League again.
U.S. international striker Herculez Gomez made sure of that, scoring in the 73rd minute to power the Mexican club toa 1-0 victory over Toronto FC in the final Group 1 match for both teams before a sparse crowd on Wednesday night.
Toronto needed to beat Santos (4-0-0, 12 points) by at least three goals to advance to the quarterfinals, which will be held next year. Santos is eyeing another shot at the title after finishing as runners-up to Monterrey in the last competition.
So, whatever scoring the hosts got would be icing on the cake, given that the visitors peetered out after a promising start.
Gomez connected for his for his seventh career CCL goal and third against Toronto this season. After taking a pass on the left side, Gomez turned and found himself with a ton of space. He fired a 19-yard shot into the upper corner past goalkeeper Freddy Hall.
Toronto pressed from the opening kickoff and Jamaican international Ryan Johnson had a juicy opportunity to put the visitors ahead in the sixth minute as he bore down on goalkeeper Miguel Becerra on the left side of the penalty area. Becerra, however, dived to knock it away for a corner kick.
Nine minutes later, Johnson found himself with another sparkling chance as Bermuda international midfielder Reggie Lambe fed the striker from the left flank. Johnson got a step on his marker and headed a six-yard attempt wide right.
After Hall saved Ivan Estrada’s attempt from inside the penalty area in the 16th minute, Lambe fired a shot from the right side of the box that hit Becerra in the chest in the 18th minute.
The visitors could have had a three-goal advantage by then. Instead, they had nothing but frustration to show for their efforts.
Then Toronto went virtually silent for the rest of the half as it produced very little offense that would make Santos sweat.
Darwin Quintero tried to test Hall with a 19-yard shot, but the Toronto keeper had not problem catching his attempt from the left side in the 36th minute.
As it turned out, Santos dominated the rest of the half. First, Carlos Quintero fired a right-footed shot from a free kick that had Hall beaten at the near post, but his attempt bounced off the left post in the 44th minute.
A minute into stoppage time, Rodolfo Salinas tried a shot from distance that sailed wide left.
Three minutes into the second haf, Darwin Quintero found himself with yet another 19-yard free kick, this attempt more straight on. And this time the Santos player sent a floating shot that Hall had little problem catching.
Santos continued to at least put shots on the net. Drawin Quintero forced another save by Hall in the 67th minute, only a minute before Hall parried away second-half substitute Edgar Lugo’s shot.
Photo: Herculez Gomez struck for the only goal in the 73rd minute. Andy Mead/YCJ
Categories: Canada, Champions League, Mexico, North America
Tags: Carlos Quintero, CONCACAF Champions League, Darwin Quintero, Freddy Hall, Herculez Gomez, Reggie Lambe, Rodolfo Salinas, Ryan Johnson, Santos Laguna, Toronto FC