Toluca are heading into the second leg of their Liga MX Liguilla semifinal against Club America with a lead, but they're facing a tough test at Estadio Azteca after giving up an away goal. Things could have been a lot worse for the Red Devils after a poor first half, but they scored twice quickly after the break and held on for a 2-1 win.
Things got ugly early for Toluca, with Wilson Tiago going down injured within the first 15 minutes. Seconds after he was replaced by Xavier Baez, 'Maza' Francisco Rodriguez nearly put America ahead, smacking the crossbar from 25 yards.
The visitors didn't have to wait much longer to see one hit the back of the net, with Luis Gabriel Rey netting the opener at the end of a beautiful Club America attack. Rubens Sambueza started the move with a pulled back pass between the legs of a Toluca defender that found Paul Aguilar, who hit a square ball across the face of goal. Rey made the perfect run and placed a backheel flick into the side netting at the far post.
America continued to dominate until the end of the first half. Raul Jimenez forced Alfredo Talavera into a big save less than four minutes after the goal and there were a few more speculative efforts from them, but they couldn't add to their lead.
Toluca made a tactical change at the break, introducing forward Raul Nava in place of playmaker Sinha. It didn't take long for them to make the most of their fresher and younger legs -- Sinha looked every day of his 37 years old in the first half -- and they had the lead before the game hit the hour mark.
Isaac Brizuela had the best of the night's three goals in the 50th minute. After picking up a pass from Antonio Rios on the right wing, he cut inside onto his left foot and surged past two America defenders before unleashing a drive from 20 yards that beat Moises Muñoz at his far post. Five minutes later, Edgar Benitez notched Toluca's second, taking advantage of the acres of space he was gifted on the left side of the box to place a narrow-angle shot over Muñoz's outstretched hand.
America almost stole a draw and another away goal in the dying minutes through their star Raul Jimenez, but his international teammate Talavera came up with a huge save on his curling effort from just inside 15 yards to preserve Toluca's win and send them to Mexico City with an advantage.
Toluca: Talavera, Pinto, Gamboa, Da Silva, Rojas (Esquivel 54'), Tiago (Baez 16'), Rios, Sinha (Nava 46'), Benitez, Brizuela, Velazquez
Goals: Brizuela (50'), Benitez (55')
America: Muñoz, Mosquera, Maza, Valenzuela (Bermudez 83'), Layun, Martinez (Mendoza 66'), Medina, Sambueza (Aldrete 61'), Aguilar, Jimenez, Rey
Goals: Rey (33')