Tuesday night’s match began slowly for Toronto FC, but it ended up being one of the most memorable CONCACAF Champions League matches in Major League Soccer history.
After claiming the first leg, 2-1, TFC fell to Tigres by a 3-2 scoreline at the Estadio Universitario. The result sees TFC through via the away goals rule, pushing them to a semifinal match that will almost certainly be against another Mexican powerhouse in Club America.
Toronto started the first half positively, stringing together impressive passing sequences and showing why they were a top defensive forces in the league last season. Near the end of the first half however, Tigres seemed to gain control of the game, forcing impressive defensive displays from goalkeeper Alex Bono and defender Chris Mavinga to keep the score sheet clean at the break.
The second half began with much of the same as Tigres put Toronto to the test from the whistle. However, as the half progressed, the tempo began to swing in Toronto’s favor due in large part to great play from midfielders Jonothan Osorio and Marky Delgado. Toronto were rewarded for their effort in the 64th minute when a cross from Giovinco met the boot of Tigres defender Rafael Carioca and put Toronto up, 1-0. And then the drama ensued.
In the 69th minute Tigres answered with a headed corner from Eduardo Vargas, bringing the aggregate score to 3-2 in favor of Toronto.
Then, in the 73rd minute Toronto answered back, this time through a splendid Giovinco free kick in the upper left corner of the net, putting the match further out of reach. The goal put Tigres on the back foot, needing three goals at that point to win.
Tigres reponsded yet again in the 84th minute off an impressive goal by Tigres striker Andre-Pierre Gignac. The strike put Tigres within two goals of victory and incited increased tension and rough play on the pitch.
Drama continued in the 90+3 minute of the match when Gignac scored again, this time on a penalty kick called due to a handball from Gregory van der Wiel in the box. The goal was not enough however, and despite the numerous chances Tigres had late in the game, Toronto advanced on away goals.
The match was historic for MLS, increasing the number of MLS teams entering the semi-final round of the CONCACAF Champions League to two. The win also saw Toronto become the first team in Major League Soccer history to win a two-game knockout series finishing in Mexico.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Sebastian Giovinco created the first goal before scoring a stunning free kick on the second, sealing the win for TFC.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Sebastian Giovinco’s free kick was as pretty as it was important, and it will be remembered as one of the most vital in his ever-increasing free kick highlight reel.
MATCH TO FORGET
Tigres defender Rafael Carioca was hit with an unfortunate own goal, one which helped doom his side to defeat.