Dwayne De Rosario

Goal-starved Toronto struck at the right time and held off CD Motagua on Tuesday in Honduras for a 2-2 draw in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League preliminary-round series. With the result, the Reds are into group stage of the tournament for the first time in club history.

With their 1-0 victory at home in the first leg on July 27, Toronto win 3-2 on aggregate and will now join Real Salt Lake, Árabe Unido of Panama and Mexico’s Cruz Azul in Champions League Group A.

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Former TFC player Amado Guevara scored twice for Motagua during his outstanding performance, but Dwayne De Rosario and Chad Barrett leveled for Toronto each time.

Facing a second-half Motagua onslaught, Barrett got the decider when he took a turnover in midfield came in on goal and sent a shot that deflected off Sergio Mendoza and past goalkeeper Donaldo Morales.

It was Barrett’s second goal of the series, and a critical one, as it put the game out of reach for Motagua.

Motagua, whose 1-0 loss at Toronto showed the effects of their two-and-a-half-month layoff from match action, bounced back at home. Led by captain Guevara, who made up for a poor first leg by putting forth a stellar performance, the 12-time Honduran champs came close to turning things around.

In a questionable decision, Preki started 17-year-old defender Doneil Henry at right back, and Guevara wasted no time in burning the TFC Academy player to open the scoring in the sixth minute. The former MLS MVP came unmarked onto a Mauricio Weber cross and headed a drive by a helpless Stefan Frei.

After the first leg, Motagua coach Ramón Maradiaga vowed his team would play better. With Marcelo Dos Santos the only change in the lineup – in for Georgie Welcome, who is on trial with Scotland’s Rangers – Motagua started strong and controlled much of the first half.

Their pace and quick breakouts, along with the heat, appeared to break down TFC in the back. Despite the adversity, De Rosario struck in the 62nd minute to tie the game when he took a deft pass from substitute Maicon Santos and sent a low drive by Morales.

But two minutes later, Guevara gave Motagua the lead again on his second goal of the game when he sent a beautiful left-footed shot from the edge of the box past Frei and into the top left corner.

That goal gave Motagua a surge of energy, which they used to unleash waves of pressure in the final 15 minutes.

Shannon Welcome, brother of Georgie, came in alone on the right side after a De Rosario defensive mistake, but his drive hit the side of the goal. Then, two minutes later, Dos Santos found Guevara again on a cross, but his one-timer went wide of the goal.

Welcome then had another chance, but Frei, who was superb all evening, tipped his blast over the crossbar. Barrett then scored to stifle any hope of a comeback and send the fans streaming for the exits.

Toronto will open their Champions League group-stage play on Aug. 17 at home to Cruz Azul.