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CCL: Toluca victory sets up all Mexican final

Toluca defeated Alajuelense to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League finals.
Toluca defeated Alajuelense to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League finals.

With a 1-0 lead on aggregate from the home leg in Costa Rica, Toluca FC arrived at the “Bombonera” full of confidence to take on LD Alajuelense in the semifinals of the CONACAF Champions League. The Red Devils fans made the grounds of the Nemesio Diez Stadium a virtual “inferno” for the Central Americans who were dealing with a goal deficit upon arrival to Mexico. Toluca defeated Alajuelense 2-0 to set up the all Mexican final for the third tournament in a row.

Carlos Esquivel put the ball in the net in the 35th minute on a defensive error from the visiting squad. He took the ball from a defender and shot. The ball’s direction was changed by another defender and it rolled past goalkeeper Alfonso Quesada for the 1-0. Toluca was two goals up on aggregate.

Alajuelense had been pushing the home side against the wall when the goal landed. However, they could not get past the defense or hit the post on a pair of occasions. Despite playing a better game, Alajuelense allowed a second goal. This gave the chorizeros the peace of mind they needed to control the game.

In the 66th, Toluca had several shots on goal with no real control in the area. Finally, the ball landed in front of Uruguayan Juan Salgueiro who sent a low shot to the near corner to beat Quesada once more. Without playing their best game, Toluca had a commanding lead. The Costa Rican squad needed four goals if they wanted to reach the finals for the first time since 2004.

The game got out of control after the goal. Jonathan McDonald, who’d missed a penalty in the home leg, elbowed a player earning him a direct red card. The booking left the team with a man down with 24 minutes left in regulation. There were several other incidents in the final minutes as frustration set in with the Costa Rican players. After 90 minutes, Toluca took the game 2-0 with a 3-0 aggregate in the series.

Toluca now waits for their rival, the winner of the Cruz Azul-Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente game that will take place at the Azul Stadium in Mexico City on Wednesday. The Aztec dogs have a 1-0 lead over la maquina cementera from last week’s game at the Caliente Stadium. The winner of the CONCACAF Champions League gets the opportunity to play in the FIFA Clubs World Cup in December. This year’s competition will take place in Morocco.

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