Los Angeles Soccer: FIFA Club World Cup
Dario Cvitanich rescued Pachuca in Wednesday's fifth-place match at the Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. but the Mexican team's triumph on penalty kicks sends CONCACAF home from FIFA's top club competition without a victory for the second time.
Cvitanich scored in the 82nd and 89th minutes to pull Pachuca back from a two-goal deficit in the 2-2 draw with host Al-Wahda, then converted the first spot kick in a 4-2 triumph in the tiebreaker.
The Tuzos, who had Americans Herculez Gomez and Jose Francisco "Gringo" Torres in their starting XI Wednesday, can take some comfort from its quarterfinal defeat to TP Mazembe, with the African champion -- from the Democratic Republic of Congo -- becoming the first club not from Europe or South America to reach the title game.
Mazembe stunned Brazil's Internacional, the Copa Libertadores titlist and winner of the Club World Cup in 2006, in the semifinals, claiming a 2-0 victory Tuesday on superb goals by Mulota Kabangu and Congolese national-teamer Dioko Kaluyituka.
UEFA Champions League winner Inter Milan will take on the Africans in Saturday's final in Abu Dhabi after thrashing South Korea's Seongnam Ilhwa, 3-0, in Wednesday's semifinal. Dejan Stankovic, Javier Zanetti and Diego Milito scored the goals.
Pachuca didn't have huge expectations to meet at the FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. Nobody expected the Mexican club (and not even the best of Mexican clubs) to reach the final -- that's, as always, the domain of the Europeans and South Americans.
But the Tuzos failure to advance from the quarterfinals, for the second time in three appearances in FIFA's club championship, is a grave disappointment that makes it difficult to counter perceptions that CONCACAF's leagues aren't at a particularly high level.
Pachuca was eliminated from the competition in its opener Friday, falling to African champ TP Mazembe, from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mbenza Bedi scored the only goal, sweetly finishing high inside the near post from Mulota Kabangu's flick into the box in the 21st minute.
Two of Pachuca's Americans saw action -- Jose Francisco Torres started and former Galaxy forward Herculez Gomez came on in the second half -- and good for them. The experience certainly is worthwhile.
Pachuca had its chances: Damian Manso struck the post in the 17th minute and Raul Martinez the crossbar in the 60th. But the Mexicans head to Wednesday's fifth-place game, against the loser in Saturday's quarterfinal between UAE's Al-Wahda and South Korea's Seongnam Ilhwa, the Asian champion.
Monterrey assumed the role as favorite in Mexico's Primera Division playoffs after holding off visiting Pachuca on Sunday in a wild quarterfinal second leg.Humberto Suazo, Aldo de Nigris and Neri Cardozo scored goals, and the second-seeded Rayados settled for a 3-3 draw -- leaving aggregate at 4-4. Monterrey advanced as the higher seed to a semifinal showdown with Pumas UNAM.
Santos Laguna also reached the final four, outlasting Jaguares, 1-0, for a 2-1 aggregate triumph. The No. 3 seed was set for a series with America before Juan Pablo Rodriguez's penalty kick deep into second-half stoppage.
Monterrey, which is the highest remaining seed after No. 1 Cruz Azul's defeat Saturday against Pumas, won the Apertura title last fall and posted the best record in the spring Clausura earlier this year. Pachuca pulled the first round upset in May, twice beating the Rayados to reach the semifinals.
The Tuzos appeared finished after Monterrey jumped to a 3-1 lead after 57 minutes, but Faustino Arizala, who scored their goal in Thursday's 1-1 draw in Pachuca, finished off a headed hat trick with goals in the 84th and 89th minutes. Monterrey held on for four minutes of stoppage to advance.
Former Galaxy star Herculez Gomez set up the third of Arizala's goals.
Gomez, who joined Pachuca over the summer after scoring 10 goals last spring for Puebla, has been targeted by UANL Tigres, Spanish-language Web site Medio Tiempo reported. Club vice president Andres Fassi said he would be in contact with the Monterrey-area club about the Los Angeles-born forward, who is slated to play for the Tuzos in next month's FIFA Club World Cup in Dubai. Jonathan Bornstein (Los Alamitos/Los Alamitos HS and UCLA) will join Tigres from Chivas USA in January.
LIGA DE ASCENSO: The last of the higher seeds in action during the second-tier Liga de Ascenso quarterfinals is out. Veracruz rode an early goal by Guillermo Rojas to oust fourth-seeded Lobos BUAP, a 1-0 road victory Sunday providing a 2-1 aggregate triumph.
Second-seeded Indios de Ciudad Juarez and third-seeded Alacranes de Durango were eliminated Saturday. Top seed Club Tijuana received a bye into the semifinals and will begin its playoff trek Wednesday at Albinegros de Orizaba. The home leg is tentative scheduled for Saturday at Estadio Caliente.
- PRIMERA DIVISION
QUARTERFINALS, SECOND LEG
Monterrey 3 (Suazo 19, de Nigris 37, Cardozo 57), Pachuca 3 (Arizala 26, 84, 89)
Santos Laguna 1 (J. Rodriguez pen. 95+), Jaguares de Chiapas 0
Santos Laguna at America, 5 p.m.
Monterrey at Pumas UNAM, 7 p.m.
SEMIFINALS, SECOND LEG
America at Santos Laguna, 4 p.m.
Pumas UNAM at Monterrey, 2 p.m.
- LIGA DE ASCENSO
QUARTERFINALS, SECOND LEG
Lobos BUAP 0, Veracruz 1 (G. Rojas 12)
Club Tijuana at Albinegros de Orizaba, time TBA
Veracruz at Irapuato, time TBA
SEMIFINALS, SECOND LEG
Albinegros de Orizaba at Club Tijuana, time TBA
Irapuato at Veracruz, time TBA
Pachuca is awaiting results Saturday evening and Sunday to discover if it's headed to the Mexican Primera Division's Apertura playoffs, but they've learned who they'll open against in next month's FIFA Club World Cup.
TP Mazembe, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, routed Tunisia's Esperance to win its second successive African Champions League title and advance to the Dec. 8-18 club world championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Mazembe won on aggregate, 6-1, after a 1-1 draw in Saturday's second leg. The Africans will face Pachuca in a Dec. 10 quarterfinal, with the winner advancing to face Brazil's Internacional, the Copa Libertadores winner, in a Dec. 14 semifinal.
Mazembe lost to South Korea's Pohang Steelers in the Club World Cup quarterfinals last year.
Pachuca, which won its Apertura regular-season finale Friday, will reach the eight-team Liguilla if UANL Tigres fails to beat Atlas on Saturday or if Pumas UNAM fails to beat America on Sunday. The Tuzos, whose roster includes Americans Herculez Gomez, Jose Francisco Torres and Marco Antonio Vidal, qualified for the Club World Cup by winning the CONCACAF Champions League title last spring.