QUARTER FINALS 2ND LEG
REAL SALT LAKE 4 - 1 COLUMBUS CREW (AGG 4-1)
Javier Morales set up the first goal and scored two of his own to lead Real Salt Lake to a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Crew on Tuesday and make it the first team from Major League Soccer to reach the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Morales fed Alvaro Saborio in the 23rd minute and then added his pair in the 36th and 77th to send Salt Lake to face the winner between Olimpia of Honduras and Saprissa of Costa Rica. Andy Williams completed the victory in the fifth minute of second-half injury time, curling a free kick from 25 meters for an emphatic finish.
After playing to a 0-0 draw on a frozen field in 25-degree (minus-4 Celsius) weather in Columbus a week ago, both sides seemed more comfortable on the heated turf of Rio Tinto Stadium in 37-degree (3 Celsius) temperatures despite still being 2½ weeks from their first league matches of the year.
Andres Mendoza pulled Columbus within 2-1 and a goal of advancing in the 49th, but RSL prevailed to extend its unbeaten streak to 34 matches at Rio Tinto.
Jeff Cunningham made his first start since rejoining Columbus this year and tried to test RSL's defense in the ninth minute, but Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando was quick off his line to diffuse the danger of a long ball played behind the back line.
Salt Lake then began to take control and Will Johnson nearly gave it the lead in the 13th, unleashing a curling right-footed effort from 35 meters that left Columbus keeper Ray Burse stranded and banged off the right post.
RSL continued to control the play and went ahead when Morales slipped a ball into Saborio, who struck it first time two steps into the area past Burse.
Morales doubled the lead when Williams rolled a ball into his feet. He took a touch with the outside of his right foot to settle and turned to beat Burse to the far post from 10 meters.
Columbus started the second half with more energy, exemplified by Cunningham's shot wide in the 47th.
The Crew then boosted their chances when Eddie Gaven scooped a ball into the path of Medoza, who volleyed a left footed drive back across goal and into the right-side netting.
Salt Lake then reasserted itself, threatening Columbus' net several times before sealing the game with Morales' second of the night.
Edgar Espindola forced an acrobatic save at the left post from Burse in the 63rd, Saborio had a header off a corner that Burse had to jump to grab in the 68th and Chris Schuler smacked a header off the cross bar 30 seconds later.
Morales then essentially ended Columbus' hopes, taking a ball from Paulo Junior a step outside the area, touching it across the 18 before striking a low, right-footed effort that Burse could not reach.
The victory was the second in four meetings for Salt Lake against Columbus in the past 12 months, with the Crew winning one and a draw settling the other.