MEXICO CITY Dec 14 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
It was Cruz Azul's second successive final defeat after
they lost to Santos Laguna in last season's Clausura
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))