Cruz Azul Climbs To Comfortable Win Over Forge
Forge FC has earned a notch in the history books by becoming the first Canadian Premier League team to score in the Concacaf Champions League – at the Estadio Azteca, no less – though the side succumbed to a hefty 4-1 aggregate defeat in its David-vs-Goliath tilt against Cruz Azul.
The Liga MX side entered the match with a 1-0 advantage after the first leg held in Tim Hortons Field, with head coach Bobby Smyrniotis only making one alteration to the starting roster: Alessandro Hojabrpour got the nod over Kwasi Poku this time around.
Kickoff would see Forge FC retain its fearless mentality, with Tristan Borges probing into the opposition box before sending a backpass into space – though after this Forge would spend a lot of the match with the ball in their own half.
Unfortunately for the hammers, a set piece nightmare akin to the first leg would slither its way into proceedings just five minutes in, with Romulo Otero hitting in a high-arching freekick which found three La Maquina men in space. A diving low volley from Angel Romero saw the hosts secure an early lead, meaning Forge’s task immediately became all the tougher.
The danger signs continued to mount as Cruz Azul kept the itself on the front foot, with the home side a laser ground cross called narrowly back for offside after it skirted dangerously through the box.
Henry would produce a fine stop in the seventeenth minute, getting both hands behind a strong long range shot. Shortly after, Cruz Azul defender Juan Escobar would fire into side netting as the Forge defense continued to suffer cracks in the high-altitude matchup.
With the tide firmly going one way, Cruz Azul captain Rafael Baca made good with a phenomenal long shot that rippled towards the top left corner. While Henry was well-positioned for the strike, the ball found its way beyond his gloves to give the hosts a 3-0 aggregate advantage in the 21st minute:
It proved to be not all doom-and-gloom for the visitors, however, as David Choiniere soon blasted a well-placed effort from out of the box to score Forge’s first-ever Champions League goal.
The 25-year-old becomes the only Forge FC Forge player to score in four consecutive years of continental competition, adding a nice bit of history to an otherwise tough match for the hammers. It also cements him as the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Firmly in control of the match, Cruz Azul would send the Estadio Azteca crowd into applause yet again before the first half would come to a close: Juan Escobar finally got his goal after finding space on the left of the box yet again, completing a powerful header to make the match all but done-and-dusted in the first 45.
The second half would set a slower pace, with Bobby Smyrniotis making a triple change fifteen minutes in to add Emery Welshman, Chris Nanco, and Woobens Pacius into the fray.
They wouldn’t be the only changes to come, with defensive midfielder Noah Jensen being handed a debut after Garven Metusala picked up a slight knock as the second half progressed.
The seventieth minute saw Welshman come inches away from capitalizing on a rare defensive mistake from Cruz Azul, firing a diagonal shot just wide after it slipped past Aldrete. Welshman would nearly tee up another goal minutes later, setting up a pass that went just behind the run of Woobens Pacius.
Herculian defensive efforts from Dominic Samuel and Alexander Achioniti Johnson would prevent the result from getting any worse, with both athletes stopping near-certain goals from Cruz Azul in the game’s final ten minutes.
Still, the result would conclude with Cruz Azul the deserving victors.
Canadian Premier League side Forge FC conclude their Concacaf Champions League campaign with a 4-1 aggregate loss to Cruz Azul, which is one of the toughest pairings the Hamilton-based side could have received. Despite the loss, the two-time CPL champions will leave Mexico with their heads held high after going toe-to-toe with one of Liga MX’s biggest teams.
For the unaware, a 4-1 aggregate loss is exactly the same result procured by Toronto FC last season – with the MLS side even seeing its home and away results end with the exact same scoreline.
This will mark the first full-scale season in Forge FC history where the club will not have continental action in the midst of its domestic campaign. Out west, fans will have to wait to see who Pacific FC will face as the Tridents prepare to embark on their first ever Concacaf League run later this year.
Cruz Azul will now march on to take on CF Montreal in the Concacaf Champions League quarter-final stage.
Forge will now have 45 days to prepare for the its next match, which will come in the shape of an away league match against Pacific FC at Starlight Stadium.