Abu Dhabi: Mexican champions CD Guadalajara have put one foot in the 2018 Fifa Club World Cup, following a hard-fought 2-1 away win at Toronto FC in the Concacaf Champions League final first leg.
The Liga MX champions took an early lead through a Rodolfo Pizarro strike in only the second minute, the attacking midfielder firing home from 12 yards after tricky build-up play down the right by winger Isaac Brizuela.
In front of an expectant home crowd, Toronto levelled after 20 minutes when Marky Delgado beat his marker to slide in a low cross that onrushing midfielder Jonathan Osario finished at the far post.
United States forward Jozy Altidore then missed a golden opportunity to put the home side ahead in freezing conditions at Toronto’s BMO Field and Guadalajara striker Alin Pulido restored the visitors’ lead in the 72nd minute.
Guadalajara, led by former Argentina captain Matías Almeyda, will host the second leg on April 26, with the winners qualifying for the Club World Cup, which will be played in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain from December 12-22.
The other teams in the draw will include this year’s winners of the Arabian Gulf League, the OFC Champions League, the UEFA Champions League, the AFC Champions League, the CAF Champions League and the Copa Libertadores.
Spain’s Real Madrid won last year’s tournament, which was also played in Abu Dhabi.