Forge FC beats Panama’s Tauro FC on late penalty conversion

 In its short history, Forge FC has already earned a reputation for scoring late.

And it added to that lore Tuesday when Daniel Krutzen scored on a stoppage-time penalty to give Forge a 2-1 win over Panama’s Tauro FC, moving the Canadian Premier League champions into the Scotiabank CONCACAF League quarterfinals.

It marked the second time in six CONCACAF League games over the last two years that the Hamilton side has scored a stoppage-time winner. And it was the fourth time in the competition that Forge had scored a goal in the 82nd minute or later.

Forge also scored a 95th-minute winner to beat Cavalry FC in the second leg of the inaugural CPL final in 2019.

Forge advances to face the winner of Thursday’s round-of-16 match between Jamaica’s Waterhouse FC and Haiti’s Arcahaie in the quarterfinals. Arcahaie advanced when Belize’s Verdes FC pulled out of their preliminary-round match due to positive COVID-19 tests,.

The Canadian side is now one win away from qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League, the confederation’s top club competition.

“We’re happy to have gotten this win and we hope we can keep on writing some of these magical moments for our city, for our club, for our supporters,” said coach Bobby Smyrniotis.

Forge had played just one previous game since its Sept. 19 win in the Island Games final and Smyrniotis said his team’s training in the leadup to the Tauro game was not perfect. But the players could run all day.

“The one thing I told the guys is we’re fit as we’ve ever been,” he said.

“I know we’re a team that can use depth and use players in different situations and I think that keeps coming out to our advantage,” he added. “And the guys believe in that.”

Once again, Forge’s bench made a difference. Substitutes Paolo Sabak and Anthony Novak combined to win the penalty with Sabak threading the ball through two defenders to find Novak flying towards the Tauro penalty box. He beat lunging defender Omar Negrete and was then taken down by substitute goalkeeper Jorginho Frias in the 90th minute.

Midfielder Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson started the play, winning the ball off a Tauro player and backheeling it to Sabak.

Frias, 19, likely didn’t need to make the desperate dive at Novak’s feet since the Forge attacker was running out of room to the side of the goal. But Krutzen made him pay, calmly slotting the ensuing spot kick into the corner.

Frias entered the game in first-half injury time in relief of Luis Hurtado, who had been favouring his right leg, was stretchered off.

Mo Babouli gave Forge an early lead before Tauro’s Edwin Aguilar equalized in the 18th minute in an entertaining game at an empty Estadio Rommel Fernandez.

Tauro came close to ending it in the 87th minute when a ferocious cross went through a crowd before going wide.