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Islanders stun Santos Laguna 3-1
Puerto Rico downs Mexican champs in Champions League


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

BAYAMON, PR -- The Puerto Rico Islanders continued the unbeaten run of the second-division United Soccer Leagues teams, beating Club Santos Laguna 3-1 Tuesday night to take control of Group D in the CONCACAF Champions League.

With the game played in a deluge, Osei Telesford scored with a deflected shot in the 15th minute and insurances tallies by Noah Delgado in the 38th and Edwin Miranda in the 50th gave the Islanders six points, three ahead of Santos after two rounds.

Puerto Rico battled through the elements (Joaquin Hernandez)Heavy rain, which started just before the opening kickoff and continued steadily through first half, formed puddles by the third minute. Large areas of standing water quickly developed from end to end, causing the ball to skid to a sudden halt or stop with a splash.

The storm was part of a tropical disturbance that had inundated Puerto Rico with about two feet (60 centimeters) Sunday and Monday, and resulted in the deaths of four people on the island. The rain abated Tuesday afternoon, but resumed just as the match started.

The Islanders were playing two days after finishing their regular season championship campaign in the USL First Division. They and fellow USL side Montreal have remained unbeaten in seven Champions League matches, both getting a victory and a draw in the Preliminary Round and both winning their group openers last week.

It was the second victory for the Islanders over heavily favored opponent. In the Preliminary Round, Puerto Rico eliminated two-time CONCACAF champion LD Alajuelense of Costa Rica on 3-2 aggregate.

Despite the conditions, Puerto Rico took the initiative from the opening kickoff, earning three corners in quick succession in the ninth minute.

With the field worsening, Puerto Rico pushed ahead again with Petter Villegas getting a shot that Santos goalkeeper Miguel Becerra was able to block. Telesford headed the rebound downward and Jose Patlan tried to clear it with his right leg but the ball deflected off his right shin into the goal.

The conditions appeared to influence the second goal, Jonathan Steele appearing to shoot from outside the area. But the ball splashed directly to Delgado, who turned and shot inside the far post from 13 yards.

The rain abated by the second half and Miranda consolidated Puerto Rico’s lead with a 25-yard, right-footed drive that skipped inside the left post.

Augustin Herrera pulled Santos within a goal in the 71st, but it cost the Mexican side Peralta Oribe and manager Daniel Guzman. Puerto Rico goalkeeper William Gaudette tried to stop Santos from retrieving the ball out of the net, resulting in Oribe knocking him down by putting his hand in Gaudette’s face.

American referee Mark Geiger cautioned Guadette and sent off Oribe, drawing protests from Guzman, who soon followed his striker.

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