By DAN KARELL
In what’s been a recurring theme over the past few seasons, a Liga MX club showed its might against a foreign CONCACAF Champions League opponent.
On this occasion, Toluca shook off a league defeat to Club Tijuana on Friday with a comprehensive 2-0 victory (3-0 on aggregate) over Costa Rica’s Alajuelense, advancing to the CONCACAF Champions League final.
Alajuelense came out of the gates testing Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera early and often, but the Mexican national team member was as focused as ever. Talavera made two incredible diving stops in the first half, first on a glancing header from Alajuelense’s Jerry Palacios and the second on a half-volley blast by Luis Valle that Talavera turned on to the post.
At the other end of the field in the 35th minute, Carlos Esquiviel took advantage of an opportunity and made one defender miss before firing a shot on goal. The shot took a deflection, which gave it enough spin to evade Alajuelense goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton.
In the 62nd minute, with Alajuelense’s defense out of sorts, Toluca added a second through a low blast in the box from the left foot of Juan Manuel Salgueiro. Alajuelense were reduced to 10 men in the 67th minute as forward Jonathan McDonald was judged to have elbowed a Toluca defender in the face.
Here are the game highlights: