Club Tijuana had a late goal to defeat El Salvador’s CD Luis Angel Firpo 1-0 on Wednesday to reach seven points in group 7 of the CONCACAF Champions League at the Caliente stadium. Xolos leads the group after three games, Firpo remains second with a single point after two games. CD Victoria has zero points and lost their home game against Xolos last week.
Despite the low score, the game was under the home team’s control for most of the game. The Salvadorian squad fell back with a five to six person defense waiting for a counterstrike opportunity. This allowed the Aztec dogs to do as they pleased.
The superiority that Xolos showed on the field was too much for the Central American squad, which was down four players. Firpo was missing players due to injury or the recent FIFA suspension for suspected match fixing by El Salvador national team players.
“We did our best against a team with players of high caliber,” Firpo Coach Roberto Gamarra said. “You could see the difference on the field. We’re a small team with limited resources.”
From the start Xolos hit the pitch with full force. If not for back-up goalkeeper Dennis Salinas, the game would have had a higher score in the rojinegros’ favor.
Americans Paul Arriola and Greg Garza were terrors on the Firpo defense in the first half. Arriola had several opportunities in front of the keeper and forced the defenders to give up corner kicks in the home team’s favor. Despite the pressure from the Apertura 2012 Liga MX champions, the game went to half time with the 0-0.
Xolos Coach Jorge Almiron made his first substitution at the half since the game was not going as he expected. He took Bruno Piceno off the pitch and brought in Fernando Arce. Within minutes Arce made a difference connecting with Arriola on the attack. Yet, the game remained scoreless.
“It got complicated,” Arce said. “We saw how they played when we visited them. They play good football. They were looking to take something home tonight. But we were able to get the goal that gave us the three points.”
The game became more one-sided when Ecuadorian Fidel Martinez entered the game in the 57th minute of play. The triad of Arce-Arriola-Martinez was too much for the visiting team. With 10 minutes to play Garza forced a corner kick. On the play Martinez headed the ball that hit the keeper and bounced into the net for the 1-0.
“We had a lot of opportunities to score,” Almiron said. “It was a tough game. With luck the goal came towards the end of the game. We were able to manage the result and keep the game.”
Xolos need to play CD Victoria of Honduras at the Caliente stadium in their last game of the group stage. Firpo still needs to play both games against Victoria. Xolos have one foot in the quarterfinals. A draw against Victoria puts them in since they will reach 8 points too far for Firpo to catch up. A victory over Victoria ensures their passage.
Cruz Azul manage win over Valencia
Mexican side Cruz Azul defeated CF Valencia of Haiti 2-1 at the Silvio Cator stadium in Port au Prince, Haiti. Cruz Azul Coach Guillermo Vasquez decided to use youth players mixed with a few regulars. The game was a tough battle for La Maquina Cementera.
Jeronimo Amione and Jesus Lara scored for Cruz Azul, Andre Amy scored for the Haitian side. The victory puts Cruz Azul at the top of Group 3 with 6 points after two games.