A goal from American international Herculez Gomez was the difference Wednesday night, as Santos Laguna defeated Toronto FC 1-0 in Torreon in CONCACAF Champions League group play. The result means that Santos, who were the favored team in Group 1, will advance to the quarterfinals, while TFC, as the Canadian Champions, will not be duplicating their 2011-12 run to the CCL semifinals this time around.
The first half was pretty lively, although the urgency was largely missing from both sides. Toronto had the bulk of the early chances, as Ryan Johnson and Reggie Lambe had terrific shots inside the first 20 minutes. Santos, a team that typically plays its way into the game, had the better chances in the latter half of the first half, as Darwin Quintero in particular troubled TFC goalkeeper Freddy Hall. The closest chance for either side came in the 44th minute, as Quintero's free kick right in front of the Toronto box curled off of the near post.
The second half continued at much the same pace, with both sides seeking to find a leak in the opponent's defense, but there wasn't a breakthrough until the 73rd minute. Gomez received a pass from the midfield at the edge of the box, chested the ball down and turned with a wicked shot that Hall could not stop. It was another timely goal for the striker, and it assured that Santos would finish group play with a perfect record.
Although Toronto had an uphill climb to advance, they really didn't push the tempo on the night. If they had won the game by at least three goals, they could have advanced, but after missing the early chances, they never seemed likely to get a goal, much less a big win. Santos will be in the final eight of the CCL again, and TFC will be going back to the drawing board for 2013.