Soccer-Toluca win Mexican title on penalties

MEXICO CITY Sun Dec 14, 2008 11:34pm GMT

MEXICO CITY Dec 14 (Reuters) - Toluca won the Mexican Apertura championship on Sunday, beating Cruz Azul on penalties after losing 2-0 at home in the second leg of the final.

Cruz Azul striker Alejandro Vela went from hero to villain after he scored his team's first goal but then saw his decisive penalty saved by Hernan Cristante as Toluca won the shootout 7-6.

It was Cruz Azul's second successive final defeat after they lost to Santos Laguna in last season's Clausura championship.

Toluca, who won the first leg 2-0 last Wednesday, claimed their ninth title, making them Mexico's third most successful club after Guadalajara (11) and America (10) since the championship turned professional.

Cruz Azul, coached by former Mexican international Benjamin Galindo, went ahead four minutes after halftime when Vela turned in Cesar Villaluz's cross from close range.

The Blue Machine were reduced to 10 men in the 75th minute when Villaluz was stretchered off injured after they had already made three substitutions.

But Julio Cesar Dominguez headed a second goal in the 78th minute to level the aggregate scores.

The game was marked by a series of controversial refereeing decisions, including failure to show a second yellow card to Cruz Azul midfielder Gerardo Torrado for a professional foul in the second half.

(Reporting by Carlos Calvo, Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ed Osmond))