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Mexico’s Cruz Azul beats Toronto FC 3-1 in the CONCACAF Champions League game

TAMPA, Fla. – Toronto FC coach Chris Arms knew there was not much room for mistakes against Mexican league leaders Cruz Azul, a team in the season and doing well.

TAMPA, Fla. – Toronto FC coach Chris Arms knew there was not much room for mistakes against Mexican league leaders Cruz Azul, a team in the season and doing well.

But mistakes cost his MLS squad dear in a 3-1 defeat Tuesday-night in the first leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final.

Toronto was vulnerable on set pieces, not for the first time this young season, with goals coming from both a corner and free kick. The other followed a TFC turnover.

Of course (Cruz Azul) is a good team, but we let ourselves down by defending our (penalty) box again ”, said Arms.

Obviously we have work to do there and it took us tonight, “he added.” And you can also talk about the other games where we let ourselves down. It will be difficult to win football matches if that is not right. I’ll find out. ”

The result means that TFC will have to score at least three goals and limit the Cruz Azul attack next Tuesday in the return game at Mexico City’s famed Azteca Stadium.

The second leg will be a chore to turn it around, “admitted veteran fullback Justin Morrow.” They are a very good team. You can tell they are well into their season. They were very sharp on the day. We expect more of that next week. We go there and do our best. ”

The winner of the series will compete against MLS champions Columbus of Monterrey of Mexico in the semi-finals of CONCACAF’s flagship club competition.

Bryan Angulo scored two goals and Pablo Aguilar, a big center player alongside Juan Escobar, also scored for Cruz Azul. Jonathan Osorio replied for Toronto, spinning the ball but not producing many chances.

The Mexican side shot Toronto 18-5 (10-3 in shots) on target.

“There were no secrets tonight. They are a good team. They can play … They haven’t lost much in the last year,” Arms said of Cruz Azul. “So we knew it was going to be difficult. There isn’t much room for error.”

Cruz Azul topped the Liga MX standings in the game 13-2-1 and unbeaten in 16 games (14-0-2) in all competitions. Toronto, on the other hand, collected just one point from the first two games of the MLS season, losing 4-2 to CF Montreal and tied Vancouver 2-2.

The game was played behind closed doors at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, home of the Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The venue with a seating capacity of 65,000 hosted WrestleMania 37 on April 10-11.

It was 25 degrees Celsius before 10 PM. ET kickoff.

Ecuador’s Angulo stunned Toronto in the third minute and curled a stunning right footed shot from just outside the penalty area into the far corner past Alex Bono. The play started with a Jozy Altidore giveaway just inside the Cruz Azul half, with the hefty forward coming back almost in time to reclaim the ball.

Osorio even pulled Toronto in the 20th minute and showed a nice speed to beat Cruz Azul defender Ignacio Rivero on the ball and send a low cross into a full penalty kick. The ball bounced off two of Cruz Azul’s defenders before falling to Osorio, who stopped the ball under 40-year-old Mexican international goalkeeper Jesus Corona.

It was the Canadian midfielder’s fifth Champions League goal, taking him past Sebastian Giovinco and the only one behind Ryan Johnson (six) in the club’s record book.

The Mexican side appeared to have taken the lead two minutes later via a free kick when an off-balance Escobar scored on a fine header. But the goal was recalled for offside in video judging, newly introduced to the competition.