LOS ANGELES, March 2 – Steven Gerrard’s hopes of leading the Los Angeles Galaxy to CONCACAF Champions League glory came to an abrupt end on Tuesday as Mexican sides dominated against their American quarter-final opponents.
Gerrard partnered new Galaxy signing Nigel De Jong in the Los Angeles midfield as the Major League Soccer side traveled to Torreon in Mexico to face Santos Laguna after grinding out a 0-0 draw in last week’s first leg.
But Galaxy’s hopes of advancing to the semi-finals of North America’s most prestigious continental club competition were wrecked in little over half an hour as Santos roared into a 3-0 lead en route to a 4-0 victory.
Another Galaxy new signing — former Chelsea and England star Ashley Cole — missed the tie after flying back to Rome for the birth of his first child.
The 35-year-old’s absence was all too evident as Santos punished some shambolic defending to take a stranglehold on the tie.
Martin Bravo shot Santos into the lead after 19 minutes, hooking home a volley from the edge of the six-yard box after Galaxy failed to deal with a corner.
Ulises Davila doubled the lead four minutes later when his shot from outside the area deflected off Jelle van Damme and looped past Los Angeles goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
It got worse for Los Angeles on 36 minutes when Cape Verde international Djaniny steered a header into the far post after more defending to make it 3-0.
Bravo grabbed his second on 61 minutes to complete the scoring on a night to forget for the visitors, who looked desperately short of match practice as they prepare for the start of the new MLS season this weekend.
Earlier, another Major League Soccer side exited when DC United could only draw 1-1 with Queretaro to go out 3-1 on aggregate.
DC United’s slender hopes of overturning their 2-0 first leg deficit were dealt a devastating blow after only four minutes in a sparsely populated RFK Stadium as the Mexicans took the lead.
A swinging cross into the area was met by Edgar Benitez who deftly cushioned his header into the path of Angel Sepulveda who drilled a low shot into the bottom left hand corner.
The home side pulled a goal back on 84 minutes when German-born midfielder Julian Buscher lashed in a swerving long-range effort that ripped into the top corner, but it was too little too late.