Achille Emana (left) scored all of Cruz Azul's goals in its 3-0 CONCACAF Champions League win over visiting Valencia on September 24, 2013, in Mexico City. (Photo: Mexsport)
MEXICO CITY – Cruz Azul (3-0-0, 9 points) is one step closer to a place in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals after defeating Haiti’s Valencia (0-0-4, 0 points) 3-0 on Tuesday at the Estadio Azul.
An Achille Emana hat-trick earned La Maquina the win, lifting it into sole possession of first-place Group 3 with nine points, three ahead of idle Herediano (2-0-1, 6 points). The two sides will meet on October 22 in Costa Rica to decide the group winner. Only a loss by four goals or more would prevent Cruz Azul from sealing a fourth-ever berth in the knockout phase.
The host started off the match in formidable fashion and Emana’s first tally came in the sixth minute. After a neat combination with Mariano Pavone, the Cameroonian boomed a shot that beat goalkeeper Frandy Montrevil.
Valencia tried to answer back by attempting to play more of a possession game. The tactic was well implemented, but it did not result in concrete scoring chances.
Cruz Azul made it 2-0 in the 31st minute and, once again, it was Emana on the end of a pass from the influential Pavone.
Before the first half concluded, Pavone had an opportunity to increase the lead from the penalty spot, but Montrevil came up with a big save.
In the second stanza, Valencia – which was eliminated from contention after a 4-2 loss at Herediano last week -- admirably explored ways to cut the deficit. A well-organized Cruz Azul defense, however, was up to the task every step of the way.
In the 75 minute, Emana, who played in two games at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, got his third goal after taking advantage of a poor Valencia clearance.
With its three-goal haul, the five-time CONCACAF club champion now has 97 all-time in the CCL, seven behind leader Santos Laguna.