Action from the CONCACAF Champions final, first leg match between Cruz Azul (blue jersey) and visiting Toluca on April 15, 2014, in Mexico City. (Photo: Mexsport)
MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Cruz Azul and visiting Toluca played to an entertaining 0-0 draw in the opening leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final on Tuesday at the rain-soaked Estadio Azul.
The second leg will take place at the Estadio Nemesio Diez on April 23 with the winner advancing to the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time.
Goalkeeper Guillermo Allison replaced regular Cruz Azul starter Jesus Corona, who was serving the first of a three-match suspension, and was tested early. In the 14th minute, Toluca’s Juan Manuel Salgueiro struck a low shot took a slight deflection on the wet surface. After making the initial save, Allison did well to recover the loose ball.
The host thought it took a 35th minute lead. Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera saved a long-distance attempt from Gerardo Torrado. Marco Fabian pounced on the rebound and put it into the net, but the goal was called back for offside.
Three minutes later, Fabian danced around defenders and into the box, only to hammer an effort into the outside netting.
Wilson Tiago nearly score for Toluca one minute before halftime. Allison, however, stopped an initial shot by Carlos Esquivel and then thwarted the Brazilian at close range.
Ten minutes into the second half, Fabian had another scoring chance. The Mexican international was unable to find the target after receiving and settling the ball at the far post.
Allison was again pressed into action in the 62nd minute, saving a glancing header by Pablo Velazquez.
Second-half substitute Christian Gimenez blasted a 35-yard free kick over Toluca’s three-man wall in the 72nd minute, but Talavera read it well to save at the near post.
Talavera came up big four minutes later to parry away Joao Rojas’ shot after he dribbled into the area.
With three minutes left in regulation, Antonio Rios fired Toluca’s best opportunity of the second half off the post.
Talavera saved his best for last with a pair of remarkable stops two minutes into second-half stoppage time, robbing Gimenez and Fabian in quick succession.