• Friday May 11, 2012

    Second-half PKs send Santos to CCL finals



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    TORREON, Mexico - Herculez Gomez scored twice in the first half and Juan Pablo Rodriguez had a pair of second-half penalties to give Santos Laguna a 6-2 victory over Toronto FC on Wednesday and ensure an all-Mexican CONCACAF Champions League for the third time in four years.

    Santos, which extended its unbeaten streak to seven games overall and won for the 16th in 17 games at home in the Champions League, prevailed 7-3 on aggregate and will play either Monterrey or Pumas UNAM in the final April 17 and April 24.

    Toronto twice took lead on goals by Joao Plata, but Santos equalized on Gomez's fifth and sixth of the tournament before halftime. The two sides played evenly until Julian De Guzman tripped Christian Suarez in the penalty area, and Rodriguez converted the ensuing penalty in the 56th.

    His second penalty in the 64th - awarded by Honduran referee Jose Pineda when Toronto defender Miguel Aceval attempted to head away a short cross only to have the ball bounce off his head onto his right arm -- added the insurance. And two more goals by Oribe Peralta in the 71st and Daniel Ludena in the 92nd comfortably gave Santos the victory.

    The goals by Gomez, Plata and Ludena gave them six each and a share of the tournament scoring lead with Jorge Barbosa of Herediano.

    After a card-filled first leg with two expulsion ended in a post-match, benches clearing shoving match, the second leg saw only one yellow card, to Peralta in the 61st.

    Both sides had their chances early.

    Toronto took the lead in the 15th minute when Luis Silva settled Nick Soolsma's corner kick, and was able to get a shot off from inside the six. Ivan Estrada blocked the shot on the line but the rebound came straight to Plata, who headed it in.

    Gomez equalized in the 30th. Marc Crosas sent a long ball from near the left touchline over the head of Toronto defender Miguel Aceval. The ball bounced once before Gomez turned at the top of the area and hit a right-footed drive past keeper Milos Kocic.

    Plata restored Toronto's lead in the 43rd. Kocic's goal kick bounced once before Soolsma controlled and sent a through ball that split two Santos defenders, and Plata struck the ball first time from inside the penalty area.

    Santos tied the match a second time in the third minute of first-half injury time when Gomez again ran behind the Toronto again, this time beating Ty Harden . He latched onto a ball from midfield from Juan Pablo Rodriguez and finished with a rolling right-footer inside the opposite post.

    "Los Guerreros" had to play without Osmar Mares and Carlos Darwin Quintero, both of whom received red cards in the first leg in Toronto, while the visiting Reds were without Danny Koevermans, suspended with two accumulated yellows. That was in addition to the injury absences of Torsten Frings and Stefan Frei.

    It was the third time this season the Champions League that Santos had scored six or more goals in a game at home.

    Toronto remained winless in five games overall with its fourth loss, including all three in Major League Soccer.


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