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W Connection suffers meltdown
T&T Pro League club, DirecTV W Connection suffered a second-half meltdown and went under to Mexico’s Pumas Unam 4-2 in their Group A Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League opener at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on Wednesday night.
One night earlier, fellow local club and two-time reigning T&T Pro League and Caribbean Football Union Club Champions, Central FC was edged out by US Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps, 1-0 at the same Couva venue, and W Connection, regular participants in the prestigious competition was eager to avoid the same outcome.
However, it was the visitors who marked their returned from a four-year absence in style with the win, courtesy a second-half onslaught.
Back in 2009, Pumas won 2-1 at home and drew 2-2 here in T&T with W Connection in their previous meetings, but this time around the Mexicans were eager to grab all three points on the road, which they did in the end comfortably.
Jose Nieto scored a goal and set up another in a busy second half for the visitor at Ato Boldon Stadium. Luis Quintana, Josecarlos Van Rankin and Omar Islas also had goals for the Liga MX outfit, which improved to three wins and a draw from their tournament openers.
Quintana gave Pumas a 1-0 lead in the tenth minute with a pair of precise touches as he first won an aerial battle over W Connection’s Daneil Cyrus before he smashed home a right-footed volley from close range past goalkeeper Julani Archibald.
W Connection tied it at 1-1 in the 44th minute after Isaiah Hudson enticed Jose Antonio Garcia into a foul 25-yards from goal and Soca Warriors midfielder, Hughton Hector then lifted his right-footed strike over Pumas’ defensive wall before it sailed away from Alfredo Saldivar’s dive and inside the left post.It was the second career goal in the competition.
Van Rankin restored the Mexicans lead for good in the 57th minute when he intercepted a W Connection pass on the right flank, ook a couple touches forward, before unleashing a right-footed rocket beyond Archibald’s dive and inside the left post from 20-plus yards.
Pumas then extended its lead to 3-1 6 minutes later, when Jesus Gallardo got down the left and crossed to Nieto for an easy finish, but W Connection stayed in the contest when Jamal Charles struck six minutes from the final whistle after he collected a through ball from Dimitrie Apai to build upon the four goals he scored in the 2016 CFU Club Championship, the Caribbean’s qualifying tournament for the SCCL.
But with the seconds ticking away in injury time, any chances W Connection had of salvaging at least a point was squashed when Nieto got down the left and guided in a cross to set up Hernandez’s gentle finish for a 4-2 win for Pumas, currently joint second on the Liga MX table, with seven points, the same as Queretaro, and two behind Pachuc, after three matches.
Up next for W Connection is a clash with Honduras Progreso on August 25 at the same Couva venue followed by away matches to Honduras Progreso on September 29, and Pumas on October 20 to end round-robin group play, after which only the winner will advance the quarterfinals, with the seven other group winners.
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