Portmore face uphill task against Cruz Azul in return leg


Portmore face uphill task against Cruz Azul in return leg

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

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PORTMORE United face an uphill challenge to turn things around against Mexican outfit Cruz Azul in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League second-leg Round of 16 match at Estadio Azteca today.

The encounter is scheduled to begin 10:00 pm Jamaica time.

The Jamaican club, the reigning two-time Premier League champions, conceded two late goals en route to a 1-2 loss to Cruz Azul during the first leg in Kingston last week.

Lucas Passerini and Jonathan Rodriguez both scored in second-half stoppage time to lift the visitors, after Rondee Smith had given Portmore a surprise 1-0 lead in the 75th minute.

During that contest, the less-fancied Portmore defended deep while causing their fair share of problems at the other end, counter-attacking with pace and power. They had good chances from which they could have extended their advantage late in the game.

The technically superior Cruz Azul, though not as fluent as some expected, controlled most of the game and could have had a first-half lead had it not been for some outstanding goalkeeping from Portmore's Kemar Foster.

At today's match venue, which lies 7000 feet above sea level, the Jamaican outfit will also have to contend with the lung-crushing rigours of competing in rarefied air.

“It will be difficult, but we have nothing to lose. At the end of the day we can only ask our players to give the best of their ability,” Portmore United Head Coach Ricardo Gardner had said during a post-match interview last Tuesday.

Robert Siboldi, the Cruz Azul head coach, warned against complacency after witnessing a dogged display from Portmore in the first leg.

“It is not going to be an easy match. Portmore's style is to wait and counter-attack with their fast players. I don't think the Azteca game is going to be as easy as everyone thinks,” Siboldi had said.

— Sanjay Myers

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