Soccer  > General Soccer  > Villa???s three leads Cruz Azul over San Francisco 3-2
July 29, 2010, 11:14 AM
LA CHORRERA, Panama - Emaunuel Villa scored three goals, twice in the second half, to rally Cruz Azul to a 3-2 victory over San Francisco of Panama on Tuesday, sending the Mexican side home with the advantage for the second leg of its Preliminary Round CONCACAF Champions League series.

Cruz Azul, which has finished runner-up the past two seasons, will return to Mexico City next week in position to reach the Group Stage for a third straight year.

Villa gave "La Maquina" (the Machine) the lead in the third minute, equalized in the 55th and then added the winner in the 72nd to push San Francisco to the brink of a second straight exit in the Preliminary Round.

The match started more than 30 minutes late due to heavy rain that deluged La Chorrera for hours before kickoff. Stadium crews had to remove several inches of standing water in numerous places on the artificial surface at Estadio Agustin Sanchez.

The rain finally abated in the second half, enabling Cruz Azul to take control of the match.

Cruz Azul manager Enrique Meza used four players - including Villa - from his lineup that beat Estudiantes Tecos 3-0 on Friday in the opening match of the Mexican Apertura.

"Los Azules" (the Blues) appeared to have control from the start when Villa redirected Alejandro Vela's cross with an outstretched foot shortly after kickoff.

But San Francisco equalized in the 20th on a rare indirect free kick inside the area, set up when Dominguez Castro tripped Ricardo Phillips on the left side. Gabriel Torres rolled a ball to James Sanches, whose initial shot was blocked by goalkeeper Yosgart Guittierez, but Eduardo Jimenez was in position on the 6 of the goal to knock in the rebound.

San Francisco went ahead a minute before halftime on another set piece. Torres' free kick from 23 yards skipped under the Cruz Azul wall, bounced twice, and Guttierez was able to get a hand to it, but not stop it from slipping inside the right post.

With the rain slowing, Cruz Azul was able to mount a more consistent attack and finally equalized San Francisco when goalkeeper William Negrete was able to block Hector Guttierez's initial shot from the edge of the area, but the ball bounded high for Villa to head in from inside the goal box.

Villa then added the winner, fighting off a challenge from Jimenez as he dribbled across the top of the area before unleashing a left-footed effort off his back foot that eluded Negrete into the right inside netting.

San Francisco hadn't played a competitive match since the losing the Panamanian league final to Arabe Unido on May 14. It will open its new league season on Friday against Chorrillo.

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