COLUMBUS, Ohio – Andres Mendoza scored in the 87th minute and the Columbus Crew beat Mexico's Santos Laguna 1-0 on Tuesday night to move into the top spot in Group B of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Columbus (3-1) has a two-point advantage over Santos (2-1-1) with two games left. Municipal of Guatemala (0-1-2) is third with two points. The top two teams advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament that determines the club winner from North and Central America and the Caribbean.
"They left their hearts on the field," Crew coach Robert Warzycha said of his players. "When you do that you get rewarded."
Mendoza took a pass from Jason Garey but mishandled the ball as it went off defender Jonathan Lacerda. Mendoza then regained control and converted from 23 yards into the lower right corner of the goal.
"I was trying to do a give-and-go with Andres," Garey said. "He tried to play it back. It kind of bounced around and he spun around and hit a great shot. It was a great finish."
The Crew avenged its only loss in the CONCACAF Champions League, a 1-0 decision in Mexico on Aug. 24. Mendoza joined the Crew on Sept. 4 and also has one goal in Major League Soccer play.
"I basically turned around and shot," Mendoza said of Tuesday night's winner.
In the first meeting, the Crew had a goal disallowed and Santos scored in the 93rd minute.
"We had more of the ball the last game," Santos assistant coach Sal Reyes said. "We were sharper. We had more chances. This was also a tight game. They were sharper in the end and managed the chance they had."
The next tournament game for each team comes on Sept. 29, with the Crew at Municipal and Santos hosting Joe Public of Trinidad.