Edgar Benitez celebrates after one of his two goals in Toluca's 5-1 CONCACAF Champions League win over visiting Comunicaciones on October 23, 2013, at the Estadio Nemesio Diez in Toluca, Mexico. (Photo: Mexsport)
TOLUCA, Mexico – Toluca defeated visiting Comunicaciones 5-1 on Wednesday to clinch a place in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals for the third time in as many attempts. The Red Devils captured Group 6 with a perfect record (4-0-0, 12 points) and equaled a team-mark with four straight wins in the competition.
Raul Nava and Edgar Benitez scored two goals each, while Erbin Trejo completed a brilliant individual effort for the other.
The host started the encounter in a determined mood, knowing that a Comunicaciones (2-0-2, 6 points) win by two goals or more would be enough to see the Guatemalans into the knockout round.
In the fifth minute, Gabriel Velasco played a delightful chip to Nava, who glided through an offside trap to receive the ball with his chest just inside the 18-yard box. The 23-year-old turned and placed a left-footed shot past diving goalkeeper Juan Paredes to give Toluca a 1-0 lead.
Benitez tallied his first 18 minutes later. After taking a pass from Edy Brambila on the left side of the penalty area, the Paraguayan international raced towards Paredes and blasted into the opposite side’s netting.
Though making up a four-goal deficit in the head-to-head battle appeared increasingly unlikely, Comunicaciones forged ahead and pulled one back nine minutes into the second half. Jean Marquez’s exquisite left-footed free kick from 25-yards out beat goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera at the right post.
Toluca restored its two-goal lead through Trejo in the 67th minute. The clever midfielder weaved his way into the Comunicaciones area and snapped off a shot from 12-yards that went off Paredes’ hands and over the line.
Five minutes later, Benitez completed his brace, racing in from the left to connect with a incisive cross on the ground by Carlos Esquivel.
Nava took advantage of a retreating Comunicaciones defense in the 89th minute to curl in a left-footer from 18-yards and punctuate the 5-1 scoreline. It was striker’s ninth career CCL goal and sixth of the current CCL campaign.
Toluca, a two-time CONCACAF club champion, currently tops the tournament’s overall standings on goal difference over Cruz Azul (+11 to +8). It will earn the quarterfinals’ top seed outright if the LA Galaxy does not defeat Isidro Metapan by five goals or more on Thursday.