Juan Franco scored twice as CD Necaxa broke open the match with two late goals, all but sealing the Mexican side's advance after a 4:1 away victory in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions Cup series against Los Angeles Galaxy.
Franco gave Necaxa the lead after 27 minutes, then after Alex Pineda Chacon leveled terms, he scored early in the second half to give Necaxa the lead for good. But the Galaxy's hopes of reaching the next stage were severely damaged by two more Necaxa goals in the final 10 minutes.
Franco opened Necaxa's account with a wonderful goal. Storming up the right flank, Victor Ruiz found Franco behind the Galaxy defense. As the Necaxa striker waited for help to come from behind, he instead fired a shot inside the near post that caught out Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.
Former Honduran international Pineda Chacón leveled terms in the 36th minute, curling a terrific freekick around the wall from just outside the area, beating goalkeeper Omar Ortiz to his left into the upper corner.
But it took Necaxa just six minutes of the second half to regain the lead as Franco scored his second. Victor Ruiz launched a counterattack which found Luis Roberto Alves 'Zague' on the left flank, and he sent in a measured cross which Franco met rising above his defender and headed home powerfully off the inside of the left post.
Looking to pull level, Guatemalan international striker Carlos Ruiz was brought on by Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid as a substitute in the 81st minute, despite suffering from a cracked tooth which was then removed, the injury occurring in Galaxy's season opener last weekend away to Columbus Crew.
Yet it was Necaxa which snatched the vital goals late, Alves making it 3:0 in the 81st minute, before substitute Miguel Larrosa all but killed off the Galaxy's chances with a fourth goal three minutes from time.
The return leg is set for 16 April in Aguascalientes, Mexico, with Los Angeles obliged to win by at least three goals if the 2000 Champions Cup winners are to have any chance of reaching the semifinals for a third time ever in the competition.
09.04.2003: Fullerton, California USA; Titan Stadium
LOS ANGELES GALAXY - CD NECAXA 1:4 (1:1)
Alex PINEDA CHACON 36' - Juan FRANCO 27', 51'; Luis Roberto ALVES 'ZAGUE' 81'; Miguel LARROSA 87'
GALAXY: Kevin Hartman - Hong Myung-Bo (82: Carlos Ruiz), Alexi Lalas, Tyrone Marshall, Ezra Hendrickson, Simon Elliott, Peter Vagenas, Sasha Victorine, Cobi Jones, Chris Albright (61: Gavin Glinton), Alex Pineda Chacon (64: Mauricio Cienfuegos). Booked: Albright 30'
NECAXA: Omar Ortiz - Jose Maria Higareda, Salvador Arevalo, Salvador Cabrera, Miguel Acosta, Diego Martinez, Victor Ruiz (76: Alex Aguinaga), Fabian Pena, Luis Roberto Alves, Braulio Luna (86: Juan Gomez), Juan Franco (68: Miguel Larrosa). Booked: Martinez 8'; Higareda 30'; Alves 66'; Franco 68'
R: Mike SEIFERT (CAN)