LAFC pulled off a Concacaf Champions League comeback for the ages, using a 3-0 win over Club Leon at Banc of California Stadium to overturn the aggregate goal count and book a spot in the quarterfinal round.
The Black & Gold entered the second leg trailing, 2-0, after playing in Mexico last week, and needed a near-perfect performance to keep the club’s first CCL adventure alive. They got exactly that, with a Carlos Vela brace and chipped game-winner from Diego Rossi giving LAFC the 3-2 aggregate win. Cruz Azul, another Liga MX opponent, now awaits in the next round.
An up-tempo first half saw Vela earn LAFC the breakthrough in the 27th minute, when he bundled home a Diego Palacios cross at the near post for the 1-0 lead. The effort came two minutes after Vela’s apparent opener in the 25th minute was rescinded for an offside call in the attacking move’s buildup.
Shortly after LAFC forward Adrien Perez entered as a substitute for Brian Rodriguez, LAFC found another gear. Vela drew them level, 2-2 on aggregate, in the 77th minute with another near-post finish, this time capitalizing on a low, driven cross from Tristan Blackmon.
With the possibility of a penalty-kick shootout looming, Rossi pulled off a ridiculous chip of Leon goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota for the 3-0 lead in the 79th minute. It dinked in off the crossbar, prompting mass celebrations at the Banc.
The game was incredibly physical, with the teams combining for nine cards. Leon midfielder Luis Montes was even shown a red card in the 94th minute for foul and abusive language, after his team was held to zero shots on target.