Pablo Aguilar scores goal in big win over Toronto FC

Pablo Aguilar as part of the Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX against Pumas UNAM in 2021

Cruz Azul’s Pablo Aguilar was one of the two goal-scorers in a 1-3 win over Toronto FC. Brayan Angulo Tenorio was the player of the game for Cruz Azul. He set the tone for Cruz Azul and scored two crucial goals in the first half. There were other factors including TFC’s lacklustre defence and Cruz Azul having more chances than TFC.

Toronto FC-Cruz Azul game overview

Three keys to the game

Cruz Azul was the better team and had more opportunities to score

Cruz Azul only had 45.2 percent of the possession. However, they made the possession count when it was needed most. They had 22 shots in the game. They did not capitalize on most of them as they had only five shots on goal. However, it was enough for Cruz Azul to take the two-goal win in leg one against Toronto FC.

It was an incredible start for Cruz Azul as Tenorio scored his first of two goals against TFC. It came off a mistake at the defensive end from Jozy Altidore. However, it is unfair to be too critical of Altidore as few players like Tenorio can produce that quality of a shot for a goal.

What won Cruz Azul the game though was in set-pieces. This can be seen in the 34-minute when Tenorio scored his second goal. They also had eight corners, which was five more than TFC. This played a critical part in how the game shaped up.

It was not good defending by TFC. However, give credit where credit is due. Cruz Azul took advantage of it. That would be all Cruz Azul really needed in order to win the game. Yes, they missed a lot of chances and eight of their shots were blocked, but they still got the job done against Toronto.

Defending was an issue for Toronto FC

TFC had 54.8 percent of the possession. Unfortunately, that did not stop Cruz Azul to pull off 22 shots with just 45.2 percent of the ball. It showed that whenever Cruz Azul went on the attack, they would most likely get a good scoring chance. For example, Cruz Azul had three more shots to extend their lead before Jonathan Osorio scored the equalizer.

Even then, Toronto could not muster much momentum. Three minutes later Cruz Azul thought they scored until it was called offside via VAR. From the 20 to 34-minute Cruz Azul was generating most of the scoring chances. It resulted in another goal, which gave Cruz Azul the lead. It was a game from which Cruz Azul would not allow TFC to come back. Pablo Aguillar had a chance to extend the lead in the 45’+2-minute of play.

TFC had a bad start to the second half, giving up three shots before the 58-minute. Fortunately, for Toronto, all of those shots missed the target. This would not last long though. Pablo Aguilar would score on a corner. He was left unmarked, which showed that Toronto really needs to improve defensively.

Cruz Azul would get more chances to score after Pablo Aguillar’s goal. This included Santiago Giménez who hit the crossbar and almost scored.

Cruz Azul’s great defence

TFC had 10 shots, but only two on target. Six of the other eight shots were stopped by Cruz Azul. Their defence stepped up in a big way against Toronto. It began with blocking a Jozy Altidore shot in the 13-minute.

The most important blocked shots though came in the 41 and 45-minute. Both were shots at the centre of the box with the former from Michael Bradley and the latter from Osorio. These two blocks were probably the most important blocks of the game as any of those two shots could have changed the outcome of the game.

That defence once again showed up blocking Tsubasa Endoh’s shot in the 70-minute. Then in the 74-minute two Bradley shots from the centre of the box were blocked. It was masterful defending by Cruz Azul.

Other factors

TFC had a few chances to score in this game but was unable to capitalize. The one that jumps out is Omar González’s header in the 45+3-minute of play from the centre of the box that was stopped in the left corner. The other big chance came in the 67-minute when Tsubasa Endoh shot from outside the box was off target.

It is important to mention Osorio’s goal against Cruz Azul. It showed rare frailty to Cruz Azul’s defence in leg one.

Toronto FC-Cruz Azul game overview

It is now a huge mountain to climb for Toronto in the Concacaf Champions League. It is a larger mountain than what Toronto faced before the second leg against C.D. Guadalajara in the 2018 Concacaf Champions League Final. That was a game that Toronto almost turned around winning in Mexico 1-2, but losing the final in penalties. The problem is Toronto trails by one more goal against Cruz Azul and this is not the same team or situation. Furthermore, a lot of their players are injured. This includes Chris Mavinga and Alejandro Pozuelo, who were their two best players last year.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, TFC had to play their home leg at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, which is a stadium in which Toronto had never played a single competitive match this year before the game against Cruz Azul. It did not feel like it was a home advantage for any team. The odds will be even worse when Toronto has to travel to Mexico City at Estadio Azteca against Cruz Azul. More concerningly, they have given up nine goals in their last three games. This included the 4-2 loss to CF Montréal and the 2-2 tie against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

This unfortunately means that Toronto winning against Cruz Azul will be almost impossible to achieve. If they are to have any chance, they need to score first at Estadio Azteca. Otherwise, Cruz Azul will book their ticket to the Concacaf Champions League semi-finals. On the bright side, a lot of young Canadians got valuable playing experiences like Jacob Shaffelburg and Ralph Priso. It should help them in their careers and hopefully also Toronto. The second leg between Cruz Azul and TFC can be seen on OneSoccer at 10:15 p.m. ET on May 4.

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