By DAN KARELL
Herculez Gomez has always has a way of connecting with fans off the field, but on Thursday evening, he gave those in attendance at the Estadio Caliente a night they may never forget.
On his competitive debut since his summer transfer to Club Tijuana, Gomez scored a second half hat-trick after coming on at halftime for U.S. Men’s National Team teammate Joe Corona, as Xolos ran riot against CD Victoria of Honduras, 6-0, in CONCACAF Champions League action. Gomez’s fellow American, Paul Arriola, also scored in the win.
The result sends Club Tijuana into the knockout round of the CCL.
From the opening moments in the match, it was clear that there would only be one outcome. Arriola nearly opened his account inside 60 seconds when a strike from outside the box rattled the bar.
In the 17th minute, Xolos found their breakthrough when, for the first of many times, an attacker broke through the defensive line and was through on goal. Diego Olsina was the recipient of the goal on this occasion, but in a similar play in the 32nd minute, Arriola was the beneficiary of a give and go before slotting home with aplomb to make it 2-0.
Three minutes later, Xolos midfielder Emmanuel Cerda was the beneficiary of yet another Victoria error and the rout was on.
Gomez came on at halftime and took a little while to settle. Once he did though, he provided all the scoring the team needed for the rest of the game.
Playing on the right side of a front three, Gomez beat the offside trap in the 59th minute and dribbled alone towards the goalkeeper, finishing strong and low to score his first in the Xolos shirt. Eight minutes later, Gomez finished off a free ball in the box with a well placed finish, and in the 84th minute, Gomez finished off his hat-trick in style, scoring on a deft chip over Victoria goalkeeper Jon Bodden.
Gomez’s hat-trick takes him to fifth place in the CCL all-time scoring charts, tying him with former teammate Oribe Peralta.
Here are highlights of all the Club Tijuana goals:
What did you think of this result? Impressed with Gomez’s play/goals? Do you see him scoring in the league?
Share your thoughts below.