GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Herculez Gomez came off the bench and snatched a last-minute winner for Estudiantes Tecos on Friday night to complete a second-half comeback against José Francisco Torres' Pachuca in a 2-1 final at Estadio Tres de Marzo.
“It feels good,” Gomez told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “It was actually just great buildup play and I was just the benefactor of great ball movement.”
Pachuca took the lead in the 22nd minute thanks to a move initiated by Torres. The 23-year-old pulled the strings for Pachuca in a central midfield role as the team dominated the first half against a Tecos team getting used to life under new coach Raúl Arias.
In the second half, Estudiantes showed more and tied the game up on 49 minutes.
“We had the game in our hands and we let it go,” Torres told MLSsoccer.com.
Torres was subbed off in the 68th minute but the night belonged to Gomez, who had come off the bench one minute before.
With the scores level at 1-1 and time rapidly running down, the 29-year-old Gomez found space in the Pachuca penalty area and latched on to a through pass. The former Pachuca player struck the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper and into the far corner to get a vital three points for relegation-threatened Estudiantes.
The goal was particularly important for Gomez because the coach that brought him to Tecos, José Luis “Chelis” Sánchez, was fired last week and Gomez needs to impress new coach Arias to win a starting spot.
Torres was disappointed after the game but afforded a few kind words for Gomez, his friend and teammate at the 2010 World Cup.
“He's a great player,” Torres said. “He's always moving and he's always trying to improve. He's a real good friend. We always keep in touch and support each other.”
Torres added that the call-up to play with the USMNT under Jurgen Klinsmann was a huge motivation to keep playing well at Pachuca.
“I think he understands what I'm trying to do and he told me before the [Mexico] game that he thinks I'm doing a great job,” said Torres.
Tom Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter: @mexicoworldcup