Things began so well for Toronto FC, but a defensive collapse ended their dreams of becoming the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League.
Toronto FC were eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals on Wednesday night, as they gave up four second-half goals to Santos Laguna in a 6-2 loss in the second leg of their semifinals series. Santos advanced on aggregate, 7-3.
Thanks in part to a pair of second-half penalty kicks, Santos fought off a promising start from the visitors to punch their ticket to the final. Joao Plata scored twice in the first half to give Toronto FC the lead in the series, but red-hot forward Herculez Gomez responded both times to up his total to 11 goals scored in his las eight games across all competitions.
Gomez's second goal came just before the end of the first half, hitting a right footed shot to the far post past goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
That set the tone for Santos' second-half offensive explosion. Juan Rodriguez converted two penalty kicks in eight minutes to give the hosts a 4-2 lead.
The first spot kick was awarded in the 55th minute following a foul by Julian De Guzman on Cristian Suarez, and the second came after Miguel Angel Aceval handled the ball following a diving header attempt.
Things got worse for Toronto FC in the 63rd when Oribe Peralta got on the end of a pass from Gomez and finished from close range.
Daniel Luduena capped the scoring in stoppage time for Santos, nailing home a shot from 15 yards out.
The second-half meltdown by Toronto was surprising given how it began the match. Toronto FC looked dangerous on offense in a wide-open affair, and were the first to get on the board when Plata knocked in a rebound following a shot from Luis Silva.
Gomez responded at the halfhour mark, but Plata again gave the visitors the lead with a one-timed shot off a pass from Nick Soolsma in the 42nd minute.
Santos then replied through another Gomez finish in first-half stoppage time, paving the way for the Mexican club's offensive explosion in the second half.
What do you think of Santos' 6-2 win over Toronto? What do you attribute the second-half meltdown to? Hoping Gomez helps Santos to a Champions League final win?
Share your thoughts below.