Cruz Azul's Alejandro Castro (blue jersey) in CONCACAF Champions League semifinal action against visiting Club Tijuana on April 9, 2014. (Photo: Mexsport)
TOLUCA, Mexico – For nearly 10 years, Alejandro Castro has been part of Cruz Azul’s hunt for its first CONCACAF title since 1997.
That long wait finally came to an end on Wednesday, when La Maquina overcame Toluca on the away-goals rule to become the Confederation champion for a record-breaking sixth time.
In the mind of the 27-year-old, a new era in the club’s history was created once the trophy was lifted that evening on the Estadio Nemesio Diez pitch.
“From the beginning, a new time was discussed and the team made a great effort and showed to be very mature on the pitch,” said Castro, who played all 180 minutes of the two-legged final. “You have to enjoy this and think about what comes next. I cannot explain to you the joy that we feel. We are happy and we must continue with this good run.”
As indicated by the aggregate score, both matches against Toluca were hard fought and evenly contested. The rain-soaked opener in Mexico City was goalless, while the return leg ended 1-1.
Mariano Pavone’s first-half goal may have propelled Cruz Azul to a spot in the next FIFA Club World Cup, but the play of goalkeeper Jesus ‘Chuy’ Corona proved to be pivotal. He made several spectacular saves to seal the necessary result.
“You have to have confidence in Chuy,” the defender concluded. “You have to confidence in God. Sometimes he is on our side and sometimes against. Football is like that. Toluca is a great team. They pressured us a lot, but well, it was our turn to win and it has to be enjoyed.”
If the post-match celebration shared between the Cruz Azul players and fans was anything to go by, the achievement triggered immense elation for the entire organization.