With the first leg finishing in a 0-0 draw in the Estadio Azul, all Cruz Azul needed in this leg was a 1-1 draw to win, and that was exactly what they got. Mockingly nicknamed el Eterno Subcampeón (the Eternal Runner-Up) for their penchant to reach – and then lose – finals, Cruz Azul left that nickname behind, at least for now, as their 1-1 draw with Toluca earned them their 6th CONCACAF title, and with it a berth in the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup, to be held in December in Morocco.
José de Jesús Corona replaced Guillermo Allison between the posts, as CONCACAF reduced his suspension from three games to one, which he had served in the first leg of the final. Like last week’s game, the first half of this one was a tight, closely-contested affair. But just when it was looking certain that the halftime score would still be 0-0, Mariano Pavone appeared to put La Máquina in front.
In the 41st minute, Joao Rojas switched the play, and Marco Fabián sent the ball back into the box for Pavone, who made an unmarked run to the far post to send the ball past the helpless Alfredo Talavera.
Toluca, who had had a number of first-half chances, particularly through Wilson Tiago, rallied in the second half. “El Pájaro”, Édgar Benítez, leveled the score in the 62nd minute; assisted by Tiago, Benítez sent his shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle, a beautiful goal and an important one. However, the draw would not be enough for Toluca; the 1-1 scoreline favored Cruz Azul due to the away goals tiebreaker.
So the Diablos Rojos kept pressing, looking for the goal that would give them the lead. They had their chances, but couldn’t finish any; and Cruz Azul kept the pressure on as well, fighting to keep the 1-1 draw or take the lead, fighting to not let another title slip away. Corona played a big part in earning Cruz Azul the title, as he made a fantastic save in the last minute of stoppage time to prevent Toluca from taking the lead.
The 1-1 score was the final one, and Cruz Azul exploded into celebrations as the away goal gave them the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League title.
Iconic player Christian “Chaco” Giménez, overcome by emotion, explained through tears: “It’s been hard for Cruz Azul to become the champion… There have been a lot of lost finals. Giving a title to the people is the best. It wasn’t easy. We deserve to be champions.”
And now? “We’re going to think about the playoffs.”
Toluca: Alfredo Talavera, Óscar Rojas (Francisco Gamboa 78′), Aarón Galindo, Paulo da Silva, Miguel Ponce, Isaác Brizuela, Wilson Tiago, Antonio Ríos, Carlos Esquivel (Édgar Benítez 53′), Juan Manuel Salguiero (Raúl Nava 46′), Pablo Velázquez.
Cruz Azul: José de Jesús Corona, Gerardo Flores, Emanuel Loeschbor, Julio César Domínguez, Rogelio Chávez, Alejandro Castro, Mauro Formica (Christian Giménez 67′), Gerardo Torrado, Joao Rojas (Luis Amaranto Perea 70′), Marco Fabián (Horacio Cervantes 89′), Mariono Pavone.