Action from the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal, first leg match between host Club Tijuana (left) and Cruz Azul on April 1, 2014. (Photo: Mexsport)
TIJUANA, Mexico – Despite the fact that host Club Tijuana defeated Cruz Azul, 1-0, in their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal opener on Tuesday, history indicates that the Mexico City side still has more than a fighter’s chance of advancing to the final.
Cruz Azul, a five-time CONCACAF champion, has lost the first leg encounter in each of its four semifinal appearances in the competition. From the previous three occasions, La Maquina still managed to earn advancement twice (2008-09, 2009-10).
A 78th minute goal by Cristian Pellerano gave the Xolos their fourth win in as many home CCL outings, but the competing head coaches agreed that nothing has been decided.
In his post-match press conference, Tijuana manager Cesar Farias highlighted the importance of posting a shutout against a side that is tied with Santos for the most goals scored in CCL history (104).
“The home clean sheet weights a lot,” the 41-year-old Venezuelan stressed. “It gives us many possibilities in the return leg.
“The win is always nice and it is even better when it is well played. Without a doubt they have the obligation, but we will not make it easy for them.”
Cruz Azul’s Luis Fernando Tena thought his squad deserved more from a match that was enthusiastically contested and was optimistic about the return leg.
“I think the match was more for a draw,” Tena commented. “Our team played a good game. In a week we will make it to the final. We will turn it around.
“It will be a very interesting match next week.”
The second leg will be played April 9at the Estadio Azul.