Otero goal holds up for Cruz Azul in win at Forge FC
HAMILTON, Ontario – A Romulo Otero goal in the first half held up for Mexico’s Cruz Azul, who edged Forge FC of Canada, 1-0, in the first leg of the 2022 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 on Wednesday night at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario.
The first chance came the way for the SCCL debutants in the 24’ when Tristan Borges blasted a shot that went blazing over the crossbar.
But the game’s lone goal fell for Cruz Azul in the 30’, with Otero bouncing in a free kick against wrong-footed Forge GK Triston Henry to hand La Maquina a 1-0 advantage.
Forge were unfazed by the visitors’ goal and kept plugging away for an equalizer. Kyle Bekker nearly found it in the 42’ but, like Borges earlier, fired over the crossbar.
Things stood on a knife’s edge as play drifted into the second half. Forge were on the hunt for an equalizer, while Cruz Azul used a patient approach to try to unlock the Forge defense for a second score.
Henry was called on to make a big save in the 70’ to deny Luis Mendoza from extending the Cruz Azul lead, followed by Juan Escobar firing a left-footed shot wide in the 88’.
Meanwhile, Cruz Azul GK Sebastian Jurado and his back line did well to keep the Forge attack in check until the final whistle to secure the clean sheet away from home.