• Wednesday Mar 19, 2014

    Toluca advances to CCL semifinals on penalties

     Toluca players (above) celebrate after converting during their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal penalty-kick shootout against the visiting San Jose Earthquakes on March 19, 2014. (Photo: Mexsport)

    TOLUCA, Mexico -- Toluca overcame a one-goal deficit in the second half and advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals 5-4 on penalty kicks Wednesday at the Estadio Nemesio Diez.

    In the second leg of their quarterfinal series, the Mexican side outlasted the San Jose Earthquakes in the tie-breaker after they played to a 1-1 draw through 90 minutes of regulation and another 30 minutes of extra time.  The teams played to a 1-1 tie in the first leg last week.

    Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera made one save in the shootout -- on Chris Wondolowski -- and converted a penalty of his own.

    Wilson Tiago converted the winning penalty in the sixth and final round, before San Jose's Shea Salinas fired his shot off the crossbar to end the dramtic encounter.

    On Thursday, Alajuelense and Arabe Unido (First leg: 0-0) will meet to decide which will square off against Toluca in the semifinals. 

    Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch, who made eight saves during the match, denied Raul Nava on Toluca's first penalty attempt, but could not stop the next four shooters. Antonio Rios, Pablo Velasquez, Miguel Ponce and Talavera scored on their attempts.

    Alan Gordon, Sam Cronin, Bill Schuler and JJ Koval converted on their tries for the visitors.

    The Earthquakes played without seven regulars due to injuries and suspensions, using a make-shift backline.

    Despite the missing personnel, Ty Harden connected on a 57th minute header to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. The defender ran onto a long free kick by Shea Salinas, outmuscled defender Wilson Tiago on the left side of the penalty area and headed the ball into the far right corner for his first-ever goal in seven seasons as a professional.

    Isaac Brizuela, however, leveled brilliantly in the 69th minute.  After a corner kick was cleared, the 23-year-old chested the ball, let it bounce and then drilled a 22-yard bullet past Busch into the left corner. 

    Toluca pushed the game in the first half.

    Two minutes after he was yellow carded, Erbin Trejo tested Busch with a hard 10-yard shot from point-blank range in the 22nd minute. Busch punched the ball away.

    Nava got into the act in the 30th minute, sending his effort wide right and, three minutes later, he headed a right-wing cross from Francisco Gamboa wide left.

    The host was far from finished as Juan Manuel Salgueiro launched a left-footed shot from distance that Busch tipped over the crossbar in the 33rd minute.

    San Jose cleared two second-half shots off the goal line.

    In the sixth minute of extra time, the Earthquakes thought they had taken the lead as Alan Gordon slotted in a rebound of a Wondolowski shot, but he was ruled to be offside.

    Toluca blasted a shot off the crossbar in the 118th minute that Busch managed to save.





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