MEXICO CITY - Horacio Cervantes and Adrian Cortes scored three minutes apart midway through the second half to lead Cruz Azul a 5-0 victory over cross-town rival Pumas Tuesday night and send it back to the CONCACAF Champions League finals.
Cruz Azul, which lost the title series to fellow Mexican club Atlante last year, will host the first leg of this year's finals on April 21 against either Pachuca or Toluca. The second leg will be played April 28.
The Azulinos had not lost in 11 Champions League matches until last week's 1-0 loss at Estadio Olimpico Universitario in the first leg.
Cervantes redirected a corner with a glancing header in the 74th and Cortes added a 25-meter free kick in the 77th to give Cruz Azul a 3-0 lead and break a 1-1 aggregate tie. Second-half substitute Rogelio Chavez scored off a rebound off the post in the 84th and Gerardo Lugo tacked on another in the 92nd minute to complete the rout.
Pumas' chances were virtually ended when Dario Veron earned his second yellow card in the 77th, a foul on Max Biancucchi that set up Cortes' free kick.
"It was a tough match because Pumas pressured us and stole the ball and complicated things for us in most situations," Cruz Azul manager Enrique Meza said. "Things improved for us when we got the second goal even though we weren't playing well.
"You always have a little luck although I always say that I don't believe in good or bad luck. After we did well in scoring a lot of goals but it was very tough. I would take away that my players didn't lose composure despite the fact that we were not playing well, but we didn't give up and I think that we were very strong defensively."
Both sides were without key regulars: Pablo Barrera, Israel Castreo, Efrain Juarez and Efrain Velarde for Pumas and Gerardo Torado and cup-tied Christian Gimenez for Cruz Azul.
Pumas started quickly but Cruz Azul eventually took control of the play, finally converting in the 37th minute. Cortes sent a ball into Biancucchi 30 meters from goal, and received a return pass down the left side.
Cortes ran clear and sent in a low cross that skipped into the area to the back post, where Cristian Riveros was able to get a sliding foot to it and redirect it into goal.
It was a rough first half, with Mexican referee Mauricio Morales issuing five yellow cards.
With Martin Bravo entering the game to start the second half for Alejandro Castro, Pumas again dominated possession and chances.
Bravo had no fewer than four chances in 22 minutes, shooting high, wide and into Cruz Azul goalkeeper Yosgart Guttierez.
But Certantes' goal sparked the crowd of 28,900, Cruz Azul, which will try for a sixth CONCACAF club title and first since 1997.
"Some players wanted to win the match by themselves," Pumas manager Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti said. "Then came the red card and the third goal and it was a blowout.
"I don't consider it a fluke because Cruz Azul did everything to score those five goals. Cruz Azul played well especially when it came to possession and winning the ball. We at the times offered a glimpse of what we want to be. During the second half we started well but when we gave up the second goal, the team lost hope and in the end the result was lopsided."