TORONTO (Reuters) - Mexico’s Deportivo Guadalajara earned a 2-1 win over Toronto FC in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final on Tuesday, denting the home side’s hopes of becoming the first Canadian team to be crowned continental champions.
Mexican sides have dominated the competition in its current format, winning every edition since 2008, and if Toronto are to end that run and claim a place in the FIFA Club World Cup they will need to produce something special on April 25 in the return leg at Guadalajara Estadio Akron.
With Toronto in the grip of a spring ice storm, Guadalajara sent a chill through the home BMO Field crowd when an unmarked Rodolfo Pizarro slotted home in just the second minute.
The home side got back on level terms when Jonathan Osorio stabbed home the equalizer in the 19th minute but Mexico’s Alan Pulido grabbed the winner 18 minutes from time when he curled in a long-range free kick.
Toronto coach Greg Vanney said his side had given away both goals.
“We had some opportunities but we gave away two goals that we shouldn’t give away and now we find ourselves in a bit of hole as we go to Mexico,” said Vanney.
“At the end of the day the score comes down to finishing your chances and not giving away goals you shouldn’t give away.”
Toronto recovered from their sputtering start and enjoyed the run of play in the opening half and after Osorio’s equalizer they were unlucky not to go into the break with the lead.
Sebastian Giovinco tapped a cheeky back heel in the box to Jozy Altidore, who was denied when Chivas goalkeeper Miguel Jimenez got his hand on the close range shot to deflect it wide.
Toronto held the edge in terms of possession and chances in the second half but it was Guadalajara who made their opportunity count, Pudilo firing home to give them a 2-1 lead.
Guadalajara coach Matias Almeyda refused to get carried away with the away win and said there was work still to be done.
“There is still 90 minutes left to be played, the result is still open,” Almeyda said. “Even if the result had been a tie or a loss I still would believe the series would be open.
“Our team has always been a team that plays with humility and unity.”
The winner of the CONCACAF Champions League qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup, which features the six continental club champions and a team from the host nation. This year’s tournament will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates from Dec. 12-22.
Editing by Peter Rutherford