Julio Dominguez (pictured) celebrates after scoring in Cruz Azul's 2-0 CONCACAF Champions League semifinal, second leg win over visiting Club Tijuana on April 9, 2014. (Photo: Mexsport)
MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Cruz Azul advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League final with a 2-0 victory over visiting Club Tijuana on Wednesday to win their semifinal series 2-1 on aggregate.
Julio Dominguez struck for what proved to be the clinching goal in the second half at the Estadio Azul.
Cruz Azul, which has won a record-sharing five CONCACAF club titles, will face Toluca in a third consecutive All-Mexican final. The Red Devils topped Alajuelense, 3-0 on aggregate, in the other final-four pairing.
It was the first time in three years the team that won the opening leg of a semifinal series didn’t progress.
Cruz Azul leveled the semifinal series just three minutes into the match when a cross by Gerardo Flores deflected off Tijuana’s Javier Guemez and inside the far post. The own-goal gave the host a 1-0 lead on the night and leveled the series at 1-1.
La Maquina doubled its advantage five minutes into the second half. Dominguez settled Dario Benedetto’s attempted clearance of a Rogelio Chavez free kick, finding the back of the net from eight-yards out.
In the 65th minute, second-half substitute Jaimen Ayovi created space inside the box, but he was unable to tie the series for Xolos, firing the ball over the net from 16 yards.
Five minutes later, Jesus Corona dived to his left to save Benedetto’s high shot from distance.
Cruz Azul nearly put the game out of reach in the 77th minute. A Christian Gimenez effort from 24-yards out went off the fingertips of goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo and caromed off the crossbar.
With eight minutes left in normal time, Richard Ruiz played a teasing ball into the box. Corona did well to punch the attempt away before Fidel Martinez was able to get a head on it.
Edgar Castillo came close to finding the equalizer in the 89th minute only to see Dominguez clear his shot from the goal line.
In a heated opening 45 minutes, Cruz Azul coach Luis Fernando Tena was forced to make a pair of substitutions for the injured Luis Perea and Joao Rojas.
Cruz Azul, though, didn’t miss a beat and booked its third appearance in the CCL final.