Raul Nava (middle) goes to celebrate after scoring the game-winning goal in Toluca's 2-1 win over Tigres in Liga MX play on March 29, 2014. (Photo: Mexsport)
TOLUCA, Mexico – Ahead of the first leg in their CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) semifinal series, Toluca and Alajuelense registered confidence boosting domestic wins on Saturday.
A goal from Raul Nava – the leading scorer in this season’s CCL -- in the second minute of second-half stoppage lifted Toluca to a Liga MX victory over visiting Tigres, 2-1. Pablo Velazquez had given the host an 11th minute lead, before United States international Jose Francisco Torres leveled five minutes after the break.
The Red Devils are now one point behind first-place Cruz Azul, a fellow CCL semifinalist, which dropped a 3-1 decision at home to Atlas.
In his post-match press conference, head coach Jose Cardozo spoke about his team’s performance and its significance ahead of Tuesday’s meeting at Alajuelense.
“I am happy because we won and we are close to the playoffs,” said the former Paraguay international. “The goal is to try to earn the largest number of points possible, to fight for the league lead.
“We have to correct errors and try to wake up a little more. This strengthens the team and the desire to go for it in a difficult match. We will try to win there (at Alajuelense).”
Alajuelense took care of business on the road, earning a 2-0 victory over Santos de Guapiles. Jorge Davis struck in the first minute, while Camilo Aguirre doubled the lead early in the second half.
The Manudos won for the second straight time in the Costa Rican Verano and will look to maintain that good form, when they welcome Toluca to the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto.
Head Coach Oscar Ramirez, though, acknowledged that the clash against the Mexican side won’t be easy.
“Tuesday’s match is a tactical match,” said Ramirez. “They will come in to play us face to face. They are a serious team.”
Alajuelense and Toluca have both won the CONCACAF club championship twice, but have never met in the CCL.