COAHUILA, MEXICO - MARCH 14: Players of Santos Laguna celebrate a scored goal against the Seattle Sounders during a match as part of the CONCACAF Champions League at Estadio Corona on March 14, 2012 in Coahuila, Mexico. (Photo by Hans Maximo Musielik/Getty Images)

CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals: Santos Laguna, Monterrey Book Spots In Final

A 6-2 win over Toronto FC sent Santos Laguna to the final, where they will meet defending champions Monterrey.

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Pumas UNAM Vs. Monterrey, 2012 CONCACAF Champions League: Monterrey Draw 1-1, Advance on 4-1 Aggregate

Monterrey advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League final after drawing 1-1 with Pumas UNAM in Mexico City Wednesday night, winning the two-leg tie by an aggregate score of 4-1. In this match, Monterrey opened the scoring in the 35th minute with a goal from Angel Reyna, who now has two goals in two games in the league and CCL for the Rayados. And Jose Antonio Garcia helped Pumas narrow the margin with a reflexive touch into goal off a short cross in the 72nd minute. Besides the two goals, this was a very flat match with little energy and very little urgency by Pumas, who were thoroughly outplayed over 180 minutes.

Both teams played weaker lineups in this match. Pumas rotated several players and played several very young players, essentially conceding the tie in favor of saving their key players for league matches to see if they can rise up the standings and snatch a playoff spot. On the flipside, Monterrey rested their star forwards, Humberto Suazo and Aldo de Nigris , and played a mostly second team lineup on the night. Nonetheless, they controlled a match that they didn't need to win after delivering a dominant 3-0 victory int the first leg last week. And with Reyna finding form of late, it could bode well if Suazo or de Nigris are ineffective in the final. Heading into the final against Santos Laguna, Monterrey will be facing a team that is very much in form (as opposed to Pumas, who have not been), but considering their equally strong form and their experience in winning the CCL title just last year, they are certainly the favorites to win it again.

For Pumas, the semifinal run is a good accomplishment for a club that has not played well of late. The club is in the midst of retooling with several young players drawn from their strong academy program, and players like Javier Cortes, Emilio Orrantia, and Diego De Buen had the opportunity to get first team experience in the tournament. The expectation is that these players will develop into a strong core for Pumas in the next couple of years. But Monterrey were the stronger team over two legs, and they will seek to defend their CCL title against Santos in an all-Mexican final.


Santos Laguna Vs. Toronto FC, 2012 CONCACAF Champions League: Santos Win 6-2, Book Spot In Final

Santos Laguna will play in the CONCACAF Champions League final after they demolished Toronto FC in the second leg of their semifinal tie. The two teams went into the second leg level at 1-1 and the Reds went ahead twice to put a scare in Santos, but the Mexicans stormed back to run right through Toronto and get a chance at the confederation championship.

Joao Plata got the scoring going for Toronto, only to be answered by Herculez Gomez. Plata scored again, and once again he was answered by Gomez. At halftime, the Reds were right there in the match; having led twice, they had good reason to believe they could edge Santos in the second half to book a spot in the final.

The problem for Toronto is that Santos went into a whole other gear in the second half. Julian de Guzman fouled Christian Suárez in the box to get Santos a penalty that Juan Pablo Rodríguez buried to put the home side in front. A handball by Miguel Aceval then gave Santos another chance from the spot, and once again, Rodríguez knocked it home.

Leading 4-2, Santos were in control, but they didn't just close up shop. Oribe Peralta scored in the 71st minute and Daniel Ludena added one in the waning minutes to give Santos a deserved win over Toronto and a spot in the final.

As good as Toronto's run to the semifinals was, they just didn't have what it took to top Santos, and that was especially true with Torsten Frings out due to injury. Now, Santos will await the winner of the Monterrey vs. Pumas UNAM tie, 180 minutes away from a spot at the Club World Cup.


Pumas UNAM Vs. Monterrey, 2012 CONCACAF Champions League: Lineups

With Santos Laguna defeating Toronto FC to earn their way into the CONCACAF Champions League Final earlier tonight, Monterrey will travel to Mexico City to take on Pumas UNAM in the other semifinal. Monterrey hold a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead heading into the concluding leg, and Pumas' form in the first leg -- as well as their recent form in the Mexican Primera -- indicate that they will need an exceptional performance to overturn the result and advance.

Still, that's why they play the game, and Pumas did emphatically beat Isidro Metapán in the quarterfinal round at home to overturn a loss in the first leg of that tie. But Monterrey look like the favorites for the CCL at this point, and they will look to get another victory to ride into the final against Santos with total confidence.

Here are the starting lineups for tonight's match:

Pumas: Odin Patiño, Marco Antonio Palacios, Luis Fuentes, Jose García Fernandez, Efraín Velarde, Diego De Buen, Carlos Campos, Emilio Orrantia, Javier Cortés, Eduardo Herrera, Martín Bravo

Monterrey: Jonathan Orozco, José María Basanta, Severo Meza, Luis Ernesto Pérez, Héctor Morales, Jesús Zavala, Ángel Reyna, Walter Ayoví, Neri Cardozo, César Delgado, Abraham Carreño


Santos Laguna Vs. Toronto FC, 2012 CONCACAF Champions League: Lineups

It is time to determine our first CONCACAF Champions League finalist. Technically, Santos Laguna and Toronto FC come into the second leg of their tie all even after a 1-1 draw in Toronto, but it really isn't so even. The Reds are without Torsten Frings and, probably most importantly, are in Torreón, where a sellout crowd is expected to cheer on Santos. It's tough to imagine Toronto overcoming that.

In addition to the other things, Toronto will have to deal with the abundance of quality in the Santos team. Few strikers on the continent are hotter than Herculez Gomez right now, plus there is Oribe Peralta, Aarón Galindo, Felipe Baloy and the rest of the Santos team. This one looks all Santos, but they have to play 90 minutes. Toronto won't just give them the spot in the final.

Santos Laguna: Sánchez, Olvera, Baloy, Galindo, Estrada, Crosas, Rodriguez, Suárez, Luduena, Gomez, Peralta.

Toronto FC: Kocić, Eckersley, Harden, Aceval, Morgan, de Guzman, Dunfield, Silva, Soolsma, Johnson, Plata.


CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals, Second Legs: Monterrey, Santos Laguna Sitting Pretty

The CONCACAF Champions League looks like it will have another all-Mexican final with Monterrey and Santos Laguna

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