Soccer  > General Soccer  > Mendoza goal lifts Columbus over Santos
September 22, 2010, 01:08 PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Andres Mendoza scored with three minutes remaining and gave the Columbus Crew a 1-0 victory over Santos Laguna on Tuesday, improving the chances of the Major League Soccer side of returning to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

The result moved Columbus atop Group B with nine points after four rounds, two points ahead of Santos. Municipal is third with two points and Joe Public last with one. Joe Public will host Municipal Thursday. Two teams from each group advance to the knockout round.

The victory avenged Columbus 1-0 loss to Santos in Mexico on August 24, a bitterly contested match in which the Crew permitted a goal in injury time and had a goal disallowed for Emilio Renteria entering the field with a number-less shirt.

Santos will play its two remaining games at home, against Municipal and Joe Public, while Columbus must go on the road for the final two rounds.

Mendoza, acquired by Columbus on September 3, looked to return a pass to second-half substitute Jason Garey when the ball bounced back off defender Jonathan Lacerda at the top of the penalty area. The Peruvian attacker settled the loose ball and unleashed a right-footed shot that beat goalkeeper Miguel Bercerra inside the right post.

The victory was Columbus' 14th in their last 18 home games while Santos extended its away winless streakto four. It is 2-2-5 away in the Champions League.

Becerra thwarted Mendoza in a one-on-one duel in the 75th minute in a match where Columbus was frequently frustrated. Bercerra, the usual second-choice behind Oswaldo Sanchez, denied Mendoza from inside the area after Peruvian was sent in alone on a short ball from Eddie Gaven.

Columbus, the only team from Major League Soccer to advance past the Group Stage last year, had the more dangerous chances, but was plagued by an inability to finish.

The Mexican club had the better of possession early but generated little that appeared threatening.

The Crew began to generate chances by the 22nd minute. Recent acquisition Andres Mendoza volleyed a Frankie Hejduk cross wide, Emilio Renteria let his touch get away from him in the 32nd and Kevin Burns and Gaven had shots blocked in front in the 39th and 40th minutes.

Columbus' again had the better of play in the second half and was frustrated again in the 71st. Emmanuel Ekpo sent a ball that deflected slightly off defender Francisco Torres into the penalty area, and Jason Garey was able to get behind Juan Pablo Santiago but his left-footed touch rolled just past the left post.

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