Mexico’s Club Tijuana advanced to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League Thursday after thrashing CD Victoria of Honduras 6-0 at the Caliente stadium to wrap up group action of the competition. U.S. international Herculez Gomez made his debut with the team and scored a “hat trick” in the process.
Xoloitzcuintles won group 7 earning 10 points against the Honduran side and El Salvador’s CD Luis Angel Firpo in four games. The Aztec dogs were superior to their opponents the entire 90 minutes who were saved from a higher margin of goals if not for the posts and crossbars.
After the first half, Argentine Diego Olsina, who was the field’s “general,” U-23 U.S. international Paul Arriola, and Emmanuel Cerda had already given the team the 3-0 lead. At the break Xolos Coach Jorge Almiron decided to bring Herculez into the game.
In the 58th minute he had his first shot, but the linesman called an offside. In the 60th he took the ball up the wing to come face-to-face with goalkeeper John Bodden. Herculez shot between Bodden’s legs to increase the team’s lead to 4-0.
The dogs were rabid with the smell of a fresh kill and continued to hound the Hondurans. But there was no luck for other Xolos players in the second half as they hit posts and crossbars.
Gomez received a pass inside the goal box from Juan de Dios Hernandez in the 68th minute. The keeper was off his line and the defense was covering the attacking Hernandez. Gomez received the ball and shot into an open net for the 5-0.
Those were not enough goals for Xolos who scored a sixth in the 85th minute. This time from the opposite side of the pitch Herculez took the ball into the penalty area. With Bodden off his line and far from the net, Gomez chipped the ball over the keeper for the final 6-0. Herculez was back from injury.
“We got the three points at home,” Gomez said after the game. “I had the opportunity to debut at home in front of the fans. It was tough the last couple of months seeing my teammates on the pitch and not be able to participate. But I finally had the chance and we took the three points.”
Always humble, Gomez did not take credit for his “hat trick,” but praised the team effort from the rojinegros.
“My teammates did a great job with the assists. I did the easy thing, I owe them,” Gomez added. “It’s a great group, I mean they earned the 10 points. So anything the coach asks for, I am here for the team.”
Tijuana advanced to the quarterfinals of the competition and must wait to see what team they will face next March when their participation in the CONCACAF Champions League continues.
Other Champions League results:
Alajuelense (CRC) 2, Sporting San Miguelito (PAN) 0