A well-hit Herculez Gomez strike was all that separated Santos Laguna from plucky Toronto FC, as the Mexican side grabbed a 1-0 victory in Torreon.
TFC needed a multi-goal victory in order to advance to the next round of the CONCACAF Champions League, and the Canadian club looked the more eager of the two sides in the first 20 minutes. Ryan Johnson had a pair of golden opportunities to put the visitors ahead in the opening moments, but his finishing touch let him down each time.
Toronto's Reggie Lambe also couldn't take advantage of a decent chance at goal at the quarter hour mark, as the Bermudan managed to get himself in alone on Santos 'keeper Miguel Becerra. Lambe's tight-angle shot from just a couple of yards out was well blocked by Becerra, who closed down the onrushing attacker quickly.
After the first 20 minutes, the hosts began to show more life, and eventually Santos gained superiority in possession. Toronto remained organized defensively, which allowed the Reds to withstand the pressure until the halftime whistle.
Just moments after the restart, Santos nearly grabbed the opener, but some frantic defending kept the score level. The home side would grow in confidence as the game wore on, although TFC goalkeeper Freddy Hall was outstanding in keeping the melee at bay.
That changed in the 73rd minute, as Gomez latched on to a weak clearance at the top of the 18-yard-box and drove home a rocket that Hall could do nothing about.
The American striker's blast would stand up as the only scoring of the match, as a severely undermanned Toronto side couldn't muster up any other real chances for the remainder of the contest.
The win sees Santos Laguna through to the quarterfinal round, while second-place Toronto FC was officially eliminated.
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