KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- Sporting Kansas City's run in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League ended on Wednesday evening after a 5-1 loss at Estadio Azul. Cruz Azul's Mariano Pavone had a hat trick as the Mexico side won 5-2 on aggregate and advanced to the semifinals.
Cruz Aul took an early lead with a second minute Mariano Pavone goal. After receiving the ball near the 18-yard-box, Pavone slotted a shot into the upper right corner past Eric Kronberg to make it 1-0. The home side continued to have the upper hand and midway through the first half took the aggregate lead with Pavone's second of the match. Kronberg was able to block Marco Fabian's initial shot but the rebound fell into the path of Pavone for the easy tap in.
Two minutes before halftime, Sporting KC responded with a Benny Feilhaber 44th minute strike. The midfielder received a Graham Zusi pass before dribbling towards the 18-yard-box and sending a low shot off the fingertips of goalkeeper Jesus Corona and into the back of the net. The goal tied the match at 2-2 on aggregate and gave Sporting KC the advantage on away goals.
In the second half, Cruz Azul replied with three goals including Pavone's third. In the 55th minute, the Argentine redirected a Fabian pass inside the near post to give Cruz Azul a 3-2 lead on aggregate.
Cruz Azul added to their lead with two more goals in a four-minute span. Mauro Formica followed up a saved shot in the 66th minute and Christian Gimenez struck a left-footed shot off the far-post and across the goalline in the 70th minute.
Sporting KC will participate in the upcoming 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League after clinching a berth by winning MLS Cup 2013. The group stage begins in August 2014.
The team returns to MLS action on Saturday night when they host the San Jose Earthquakes at Sporting Park. A limited number of tickets remain for the match and can be purchased online via Ticketmaster.com.