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New York Red Bulls knocked out of Concacaf Champions League by Santos Laguna

Mar 5, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Andreas Ivan (9) reacts after missing a shot on goal in front of Santos Laguna defender Doria (21) and forward Julio Cesar Furch (9) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Red Bulls gave their fans hope with two goals in the opening nine minutes that leveled their Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal series Tuesday night in Torreón, Mexico.

Santos Laguna gave those same fans a familiar feeling in a nine-minute span late in the second half, scoring four times en route to a 4-2 win in the second leg at Estadio Corona. The Red Bulls, who lost 6-2 on aggregate, were knocked out of the CCL semifinals for a second straight year, following last March’s ouster by eventual champion Guadalajara.

Red Bulls coach Chris Armas made three changes to his starting XI from the 2-0 loss to Santos at Red Bull Arena last week. Michael Amir Murillo returned from suspension, while attack-minded Florian Valot and Omir Fernandez started.

Fernandez scored his first Red Bulls goal in the fourth minute. The Homegrown 20-year-old charged toward the near post to connect with Danny Royer’s end-line cross and tapped the ball past Santos goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco to slice the Red Bulls’ deficit in half.

The Red Bulls leveled the series in the ninth minute when Valot fed Bradley Wright-Phillips in the box. With his back to goal, Wright-Phillips held the ball up, turned and found a cutting Royer in space. The Austrian hammered the equalizer in from just outside the penalty spot to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.

Santos rebounded from the initial shock and was more dangerous for the remainder of the first half. After failing to capitalize on numerous Red Bulls turnovers in the midfield and in their defensive third, Santos finally scored in the 72nd minute when defender Jose Abella clinically finished inside the far post.

That eliminated the possibility of penalty kicks, a possibility that hung over Estadio Corona much of the night.

It also started a goals avalanche for the hosts, who scored three more times. A ridiculous shot from the other side of midfield by Brian Lozano — his second goal — ending the onslaught.

Santos advances to the semifinals where the Mexican side will meet the winner of the Tigres UANL versus Houston Dynamo quarterfinal. The Red Bulls return to New Jersey to shift their focus back on the Major League Soccer regular season after another failed CCL bid.

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