Soccer  > General Soccer  > Santos, Monterrey return to Champions League
November 29, 2010, 01:34 PM
MONTERREY, Mexico - Santos Laguna will return to the CONCACAF Champions League for a second straight year and third time in four seasons in 2011, qualifying with Monterrey with their advancement to the Mexican league Apertura Liguilla finals.

Monterrey, which will face Mexican league rival Toluca in the quarterfinals in February, will be back for a second straight time.

Both secured their places in the 2011-2012 confederation club championship by completing aggregate victories in their Mexican league semifinals Sunday night.

Santos took a one-goal lead three times, twice on goals by Carlos Quintero and again when Christian Benitez tallied in the 75th minute, and then held on for a 3-3 draw with Mexico City giant America to earn a 5-4 aggregate victory.

The club prevailed despite the 68th-minute expulsion of Panamanian defender Felipe Baloy.

In the other semifinal, Chilean forward Humberto Suazo and Argentine midfielder Neri Cardozo both scored in the final three minutes to lift Monterrey past Pumas for a 2-0 win, following a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Mexico City.

Monterrey and Santos - which finished two points apart in Group 1 of the regular season with the second and third-best records behind Cruz Azul -- become the fifth and sixth teams to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League, joining U.S. sides Colorado, Los Angeles, Seattle and Dallas.

The two Mexican clubs face off for the Mexican Apertura title on Wednesday in Torreon and Saturday in Monterrey, with the winner advancing directly to next year's Champions League Group Stage, and the loser forced into the Preliminary Round.

Mexico's remaining two berths will be determined in its Clausura championship.

While Monterrey faces Toluca in February's Champions League quarterfinals, Santos will oppose Cruz Azul.

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