Columbus created approximately 127 chances against Santos Laguna last night at Crew Stadium, but couldn’t cash one in until the 87th minute, when Andres Mendoza rolled in a shot to the far post.
The Peruvian forward, who signed with the Crew at the beginning of the month, collected a loose ball outside the top of the box and laced his shot past keeper Miguel Bercerra, finally putting the Crew up after near misses by Eddie Gaven, Jason Garey, Kevin Burns, and Mendoza himself.
Here are the highlights:
The win puts Columbus on top of the group, two points ahead of Santos with two games to play—and it also avenges the Crew’s controversial loss to Santos in Mexico in late August, aka, Numberless Shirt-gate.
At the Estadio Azul, Toronto FC shut down Cruz Azul and its white-hot striker Javier Orozco (10 goals in five CCL games) to earn a 0-0 draw and become just the third MLS team in 19 attempts to earn a point in CONCACAF competitions in Mexico.
Toronto started seven reserves in the match, and deployed a defend-and-counter approach, with a heavy emphasis on ‘defend.’ It was a scrappy match that featured 10 yellow cards, and two early injuries to Toronto players, both of which required substitutions.
There was also some dubious officiating in the waning moments, as a whopping five minutes of stoppage time were mysteriously added (with Cruz Azul pushing for a late winner), and a clear corner kick for the visitors ruled a goal kick for the hosts.
But the Reds escaped with their point, and now sit in third place in Group A, one ahead of Arabe Unido of Panama.
Cruz Azul is in first with seven points, one ahead of Real Salt Lake, which plays at Arabe Unido tonight.