Toronto FC defeat Tauro

, Last Updated: 2:47 AM ET

TORONTO - A flick header from Danny Koevermans minutes from halftime secured a vital three points for Toronto in a 1-0 win over Panamanian champion Tauro F.C. on Tuesday night at BMO Field.

After receiving a pass on the left, Ashtone Morgan’s cross deflected to the top of the area where a waiting Peri Marosevic headed the ball back towards goal. Koevermans’ glancing header beat Tauro goalkeeper Alvaro Anzola who was well off his line to challenge for the second ball.

“The ’keeper was too late and the goal was deserved,” Koevermans said. “But it’s the defence today that has done well. (Tauro) had not chances at all.”

The must-win match moved Toronto up to second place in CONCACAF’s Group C and eliminates the Panamanians from the competition.

“They had two good strikers,” head coach Aron Winter said, when asked about the defensive setup the team deployed. “I prefer (Torsten Frings) to play as a free man (in defence) and also when we have the ball.”

Winter dropped Torsten Frings between Toronto’s two central defenders, smothering a Tauro attack that struggled to unlock TFC’s five-back system. The Panamanians were held to just three shots on target and rarely threatened Toronto’s Milos Kocic.

Despite playing on short rest — following a 2-1 win over Colorado on Saturday — the Reds were the livelier of the two sides to start, creating a number of chances that went begging through the opening half hour.

The Reds nearly opened the scoring 10 minutes after the start when a quick combination through midfield saw Ryan Johnson put Koevermans in behind the visitor’s defence. But the Dutchman’s first touch took him away from goal before attempting a shot that failed to test Anzola.

Richard Eckersley’s overlapping run in the 25th provided TFC’s clearest opportunity at the start — a spirited run that saw the Englishman split a pair of Tauro defenders before unleashing a cross the skipped in front of Anzola. The short hop fooled the Panamanian ’keeper who spilled a rebound just out of Koevermans’ reach.

The Dutchman was active the entire night before scoring his third goal in as many days — his club-leading seventh of the season.

“When I came in January, I (wanted) to get him,” Winter said of Koevermans’ goal-scoring streak. “It was a very good goal because he jumped before the goalkeeper came. In that moment he got punched in his head.”

Tauro’s lone chance in the first half was its best of the match. In the 33rd minute a deflected corner fell to a waiting Victor Mendieta at the back post. With Kocic out of position, the Panamanian’s header caromed off the post.

The attempt was one of two chances the visitor’s created all game in arguably TFC’s best defensive effort of the season.

“We’re making huge improvements,” Winter said. “We came here to rebuild and to succeed in the league. We’re going to try to survive in this (Champions League) group stge.”

Despite seeing limited chances in regular time, the visitors gave the Reds a scare in stoppage time right at the close when referee Terry Vaughn whistled a controversial foul right outside the area.

But TFC’s defence held up a final time when the Reds blocked the resulting free kick, pushing it away from danger to preserve the one goal lead and breathe a sigh of relief.

Dallas still heads Group C with seven points from three matches while Mexico’s Pumas sit on four points with a game in hand.

Toronto now turns its attention to Pizza Hut Park, where group challengers FC Dallas host Mexico’s Pumas tonight. A win by the Hoops would set up a decisive meeting next Tuesday when Pumas travel to BMO Field.

A win on match-day five against the Mexicans would see a Canadian club qualify for next year’s Champions League knockout phase for the first time since the Montreal Impact accomplished the feat in 2008.

“I’m not thinking about that game,” Winter said. “First of all, I want to analyze the games — the things we did well.

“We’re going to think about the next game and that’s Chivas.”

The Reds return to MLS action Saturday night when they travel to Chivas USA. Anything less than three points will see TFC’s already slim playoff hopes end despite a recent spell of positive results.


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