Courtesy of Mexsport
TOLUCA, Mexico – Osvaldo Gonzalez scored his first goal in the CONCACAF Champions League and sparked Toluca to a 3-0 victory over the Puerto Rico Islanders on Wednesday, leaving the Mexican side in firm control of Group D after three rounds.
Toluca dominated possession and chances throughout, thwarted by Islanders goalkeeper Bill Gaudette several times. A penalty by Juan Cuevas in the 76th and a final tally by Emmanuel Cerda in the second minute of second-half injury time added the insurance as «los Diablos Rojos» (Red Devils) improved to seven points, three better than the Islanders, who fell to second place. Olimpia and FAS, who play Thursday night, each have one point.
Puerto Rico pressed Toluca first, resulting in a chance in the second minute when a high cross by Richard Martinez was grabbed by keeper Alfredo Talavera just before Noah Delgado crashed into him.
But it was virtually all Toluca after that, with the Mexican side generating three of their five first-half corners in the first 18 minutes and finally capitalizing for a goal. Toluca was largely limited to chances from distance, including a knuckling shot by Cuevas in the 11th that Gaudette had to punch away, and a left-footed effort by Carlos Galeana in the 14th that the American keeper was able to hold.
Eventually Toluca’s overwhelming possession paid off. Antonio «Zinha» Naelson’s corner swerved to the middle of the area, where Gonzalez was able to create space between himself and his marker Osei Telesford and volley the ball with his right foot from near the penalty spot past Gaudette.
The 26-year-old Cuevas, who had two goals in 19 matches last year in the Mexican league, has yet to score in seven games this season.
Gaudette prevented any further damage before halftime, slapping wide a defensive header by teammate Joshua Hansen off a chipped Zinha free kick in the 25th and then tipping Hector Mancilla’s right-footed effort from 30 meters off the crossbar in the 43rd.
Toluca also failed to convert in the in the 27th when Martinez missed his attempt to clear a through ball outside the area, allowing Isaac Brizuela to close on Gaudette unmarked, tip the ball around him, but then fell as leapt over the Puerto Rican keeper.
The second half was much more of the same, with Toluca creating several chances without seriously testing Gaudette.
Shots from distance and crosses through the penalty area finally manifested themselves into a second goal when Nestor Calderon’s attempted cross across the top of the area deflected off Hansen’s left arm, sending Cuevas to the spot.
Cerda completed the scoring, making a near post run in front of David Horst and getting just inside the goal box where he deflected Galeana’s cross from the left past Gaudette.
The match was the fifth of six in 17 days for Puerto Rico, which has won only one match in that stretch and fallen to fourth place in the six-team USL Conference of the U.S. Soccer Federation Division 2 league.