Samuel (pictured) acknowledges the fans after scoring the only goal in the LA Galaxy's 1-0 win over Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on March 12, 2014, in Carson, California. (Photo: German Alegria)
CARSON, California -- The LA Galaxy survived a second-half charge by visiting Club Tijuana to register a 1-0 victory in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series on Wednesday.
Brazilian forward Samuel scored the lone goal in an encounter at the Stub Hub Center contested between two teams separated geographically by only 142 miles.
The Galaxy struck in the 11th minute, when Ireland international Robbie Keane tried to trap a chip from Marcelo Sarvas in the penalty area, but it deflected off his hip instead. The ball went slightly to the right, where Samuel was able to slot it home from 11-yards out past goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo.
Afterwards, continued LA to enjoy spells of solid possession without extending its lead.
Tijuana came out of the locker room at the start of the second half focused on getting the equalizer.
The Mexican side forced goalkeeper Jaime Penedo to make big saves twice off free kicks and twice Xolos was called for offside on those plays in the 52nd and 55th minutes.
Cristian Pellerano fired a blast from the left side in the 57th minute that Penedo deflected just over the crossbar for a corner kick.
In the 61st minute, the Panamanian almost gave the visitors a gift goal when he dropped a cross in the penalty area. The ball hit off the foot of LA defender Omar Gonzalez and rolled tantalizingly close to the goal line. Penedo, however, managed to slap it away from harm before it could cross the line.
Former Galaxy striker Herculez Gomez, who and is tied for fifth place on the CCL’s all-time scoring list with 12 goals, came on for Jaimen Ayovi in the 80th minute.
Five minutes later, the U.S. international came close to netting as his header from inside the area went wide left.
The win was the Galaxy’s ninth in 12 CCL home games, while Tijuana suffered its first loss in the competition after winning Group 7 with a 3-1-0 record.
The action moves to Mexico for the second leg on March 18 at the Estadio Caliente.