It looked like the Red Bulls might pull off the improbable–until Santos Laguna scored four times in nine minutes to stun the MLS side and boot it out of the CCL.
For 71 minutes, it looked like the New York Red Bulls might do the unthinkable. MLS teams don't go to Mexico and overturn 2-0 aggregate deficits in Concacaf Champions League play. That's just not a thing.
Nine minutes later, we all saw why.
The Red Bulls completely capsized, conceding four goals in a nine-minute window, including one from the halfway line, going from the cusp of forcing penalty kicks to being blown out of the CCL by Santos Laguna. The scoreline shows that the Mexican hosts routed the Red Bulls 6-2 on aggregate after a 4-2 second-leg win, but the details show a series that was so close to improbably going the Red Bulls' way before the wheels fell off.
New York stunned Santos Laguna out of the gate, with Omir Fernandez and Daniel Royer scoring within the first nine minutes of the match.
Bradley Wright-Phillips missed a chance to pile on and give the Red Bulls the lead just after the half-hour mark, though, and Santos Laguna seized that lifeline and made the most of it.
The blitz began in the 72nd minute, with Jose Abella restoring Santos Laguna's aggregate lead.
With momentum clearly tilting the hosts' way in Torreon, Brian Lozano put the nail effectively in the coffin four minutes later, tying the score on the night and giving Santos breathing room at 4-2 on aggregate.
Three minutes later, it was Diego Valdes adding to the Red Bulls' misery from close range.
Lozano then capped the furious rally in style with his laser from the Santos half of the center circle, a goal that could well wind up on the Puskas Award highlight reel later this year.
GOAL OF THE TOURNAMENT.— Joga Bonito USA (@Jasoninho10) March 13, 2019
Can't stop watching the sensational #GOLAZO by Brian Lozano! He didn't even take a touch, before launching a perfectly driven strike from inside his own half. Amazing power and technique!
💣💣💣🔥🔥🔥👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼#SantosLaguna #CCL #SCCL2019 #Concachampions pic.twitter.com/TOiw7dPHGt
In all, it was a stunning effort from all angles, and one that seals Santos Laguna's place in the quarterfinals.
It'll be joined on one half of the semifinal bracket by fellow Liga MX side Tigres UANL, which finished off the Houston Dynamo with a 3-0 aggregate triumph. Tigres carried a 2-0 lead from the opening leg in Houston back home and used a 68th-minute goal from Carlos Salcedo to put any thoughts of a comeback to rest.
MLS's last hopes at crowning a CCL winner are Atlanta United and Sporting Kansas City, with the latter having the better chance of the bunch. Atlanta capitulated in a 3-0 road defeat to Monterrey in the first leg, while Sporting KC lost 2-1 to Panamanian upstart Independiente but has that crucial away goal in its back pocket for Thursday's return leg in Kansas City.