After scraping just one point from two CONCACAF Champions League matches, Pumas UNAM roared to life in front of their home crowd on Wednesday night, striking four times in the first half to bury Toronto FC 4-0 at the Estadio Olímpico Universitario in Mexico City.
Forward Martín Bravo completed a hat trick before the halftime whistle, and defender Efraín Velarde added the fourth.
The win was the first in three games for Pumas (1-1-1), good enough to put them in second place of Group C with four points. Toronto (1-1-0) stayed at three points and slipped to third in the standings.
The match opened innocently enough, with each team having some chances early on.
Pumas’ first attempt came in the fifth minute, when Francisco Palencia sent his weak header wide left on a cross from Carlos Orrantia.
Danny Koevermans countered soon after for Toronto, forcing a save from Odín Patiño in the 12th minute with a shot from outside the penalty area.
But then the match quickly swung in favor of the hosts, and it was all Pumas after that. Pumas roared to life in the 17th minute, when Bravo scored his first of the night, splitting a pair of defenders then weaving around ‘keeper Milos Kocic in the center of the box to guide a right-footed shot inside the bottom right corner.
Ryan Johnson had a chance for an equalizer that could’ve made the difference between a rout and a close game, but his shot was saved by Patiño.
It didn’t take long for the Mexican side to respond, and when they did, they made sure it hurt. In the 21st minute, Bravo beat defender Andy Iro at the left side of the box and set up Velarde, who made no mistake from close range to make it 2-0.
Bravo and Pumas kept pouring on the hurt and, just after the half-hour mark, the striker made it 3-0 for the home side. Bravo beat TFC defender Ty Harden to latch onto a long pass from David Cabrera and then put his shot into the left corner.
Toronto, in an effort to stop the onslaught, made their first substitution with six minutes left before the break, as Eddy Viator replaced Iro. But it was to no avail.
Not satisfied with the brace, Bravo struck gold once more in the 42nd minute to complete the hat trick. Bravo took a through ball from Palencia behind the defense and, from the center of the box, found the lower left corner to the frustration of TFC defenders, who appealed for offsides on the play.
Toronto return to Champions League action on Sept. 20, when they host Tauro FC, who tied FC Dallas 1-1 also on Wednesday. Pumas, meanwhile, take on FCD on Sept. 21 for the group lead.