Herculez Gomez (red) scored three goals in Club Tijuana's 6-0 CONCACAF Champions League win over visiting Victoria on September 26, 2013, at the Estadio Caliente in Tijuana, Mexico. (Photo: Mexsport)
TIJUANA, Mexico – Herculez Gomez scored three goals and Club Tijuana defeated Victoria 6-0 in a CONCACAF Champions League match on Thursday at the Estadio Caliente.
Diego Olsina, Paul Arriola and Emmanuel Cerda added single tallies in an encounter that saw the Xolos (3-1-0, 10 points) complete their Group 7 schedule unbeaten and earn a place in the quarterfinals.
Tijuana got on the scoreboard in the 17th minute, when Olsina rolled a shot past Victoria goalkeeper John Bodden after finishing a neat give-and-go with Cerda at the top of the penalty area. It was Olsina’s second goal of the tournament
The influential Cerda assisted on the Xolos’ second goal in the 32nd minute, finding Arriola – a tireless 18-year-old -- who took a touch at the top of the box and clinically beat a stranded Bodden at the far post.
Three minutes later, Cerda made it 3-0, essentially putting the game out of reach by half-time. The 26-yeard-old attacker received an Aldo Polo cross from the right with his chest, let the ball bounce once and fired in a right-footed rocket from 15-yards-out.
Gomez came on as substitute after the interval to make his Club Tijuana debut a memorable one. The United States international had been out the last two months with an injury since signing from Santos in the offseason.
The first goal started off a long pass from 10 yards inside his own end by alert central defender Cristian Pellerano in the 60th minute. An unmarked Gomez received the ball on the right wing, raced into box and shot it underneath Bodden.
In the 68th minute, Cerda was involved in Gomez’s second goal. On this occasion, he directed a quick chip into the penalty area for Juan de Dios Hernandez. Bodden rushed out and appeared to distract Hernandez, who didn’t connect. The ball deflected off the Victoria goalkeeper and into the path of the former LA Galaxy player, allowing him to pound it into the net.
The 31-yer-old completed his hat-trick and the scoreline with five minutes left in regulation, making himself available for a through ball, sprinting into the box and chipping Bodden from 12-yards out.
It was Gomez’s 12th career goal in the competition, leaving him in a tie for fifth on the all-time scoring list with Santos’ Oribe Peralta, a former teammate. The forward also became the only player to score more than one goal in each of the last three editions of the Champions League.
While Club Tijuana must wait to discover the identity of its quarterfinal opponent, Victoria (0-0-3, 0 points) will host El Salvador’s Luis Angel Firpo (1-1-1, 4 points) in a meeting of eliminated sides in the last group game on October 23.