Lucas Passerini and Jonathan Rodriguez each scored in second-half stoppage time to earn Cruz Azul a dramatic 2-1 victory at Portmore United in the first leg of their 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round-of-16 tie on Tuesday night at Independence Park in Kingston, Jamaica.

Portmore United’s first-ever Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (SCCL) journey begins with a battle against Concacaf heavyweights, Cruz Azul.

The Mexican club is a six-time Concacaf club champion, while the Jamaican side is making their SCCL debut. Yet for Portmore United Head Coach Ricardo Gardner, the series with La Maquina will be a great testing ground for his players.

“It’s a very tough opponent at a very tough place to play football, but it is a challenge that we will embrace,” said Gardner in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.

“It is a challenge from which we will try to get a lot of experience, and it is a challenge for us to come and put our best foot forward.”

Not only does Gardner feel like Portmore United are representing the country of Jamaica, but also the entire Caribbean.

“It is a perfect stage for our players and for our region in the Caribbean to come and try to display our talent to the best of our ability and at the end of the day, who knows. Representing the Caribbean is a responsibility that we like to have and we always try to put those things in our goals from the beginning of the season. We want to play in the highest competition in our region and this is the highest competition in our region and our players can play on a different platform and showcase their talent,” said Gardner.

 

If there is anyone who knows about the difficulties of playing in Mexico, it is Gardner. The 41-year-old earned well over 100 caps with the Jamaican National team and played many an international match in Mexico.

Gardner is hopeful that his players will make the very most of this unique opportunity to show their talent to the rest of the region.

“Coming to Mexico and playing here is always a difficult encounter, whether it’s national team or club, but as we mentioned before, it’s a platform for us to put our best foot forward. At the end of the day, it’s football and if you want to reach the highest level, you have to play against the best and you have to compete against the best. I think our opponent is very good at what they are doing within Concacaf. They are showing a real level of professionalism within the region. It will be good to be up against them. We’ll for sure get some good experience form this,” concluded Gardner.

Cruz Azul defeated Mexican rivals Tigres UANL 2-1 in the Leagues Cup final to lift the trophy.

In the inaugural edition of the interleague competition between MLS and Liga MX clubs, Cruz Azul triumphed in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Two goals in as many minutes from Yoshimar Yotun and Jonathan Rodriguez inspired six-time CONCACAF Champions League winners Cruz Azul in the all-Mexican final.

Guido Pizarro pulled a goal back in the 90th minute but Tigres were forced to settle for another runners-up finish in international cup competition, having lost Champions League finals in 2016, 2017 and 2019, while they were beaten in the 2015 Copa Libertadores decider.

After a goalless opening half, Cruz Azul – who trumped LA Galaxy in the semi-finals – broke the deadlock via Peru international Yotun.

Yotun converted a 73rd-minute penalty before Rodriguez doubled the lead two minutes later following his last-gasp winner for Uruguay during the international break.

Former Sevilla midfielder Pizarro's late header gave Tigres – who beat America on penalties in the semis – some hope in Nevada but it was too little, too late for Ricardo Ferretti's men.

Tigres finished the match with 10 men after goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman was sent off in the 97th minute for an apparent elbow off the ball.

Tigres UANL claimed a thrilling win over America on Tuesday and will face Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup final.

Tigres needed two own goals and penalties to get past America 5-3 in a shoot-out after their semi-final finished locked at 2-2 at BBVA Stadium in Houston.

Paul Aguilar's own goal put Tigres ahead but an Andres Ibarguen penalty brought America level before half-time.

Ibarguen looked set to be a hero when his deflected strike gave America an 83rd-minute lead, only for Roger Martinez to be sent off for lashing out.

Incredibly, Tigres drew level in the 95th minute when America defender Bruno Valdez headed a long throw-in from the right over his own goalkeeper Oscar Jimenez.

Leonel Lopez missed the only spot-kick in the shoot-out, Nahuel Guzman saving the effort onto the post as Tigres sensationally progressed.

It will be an all-Liga MX final in the inaugural edition of the tournament after Cruz Azul beat LA Galaxy 2-1.

Emil Cuello had cancelled out Jose Maduena's early goal with a brilliant long-range effort for Galaxy.

But Orbelin Pineda scored the winner early in the second half, curling a 25-yard strike into the top corner to send Cruz Azul through to the decider on September 18.

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