With an incredible performance at home on Sunday night, Monarcas Morelia dominated Cruz Azul for a 3-0 victory which moves them into the Clausura 2011 Liguilla finals. Unfortunately, Morelia's win was ultimately overshadowed by a massive brawl which took place in the match's closing minutes. Nonetheless, Morelia move past Cruz Azul with a 3-2 aggregate semifinal victory, and will face Pumas UNAM for the Clausura championship this week.
Morelia bounced back with a vengeance after a lethargic start to the first leg on Thursday night. Back in the comfortable confines of Estadio Morelos, Monarcas exploded out of the starting blocks at the opening whistle. In the 9th minute, Rafael Marquez Lugo scored on a header off a long free kick from Manuel Perez. Less than three minutes later, Marquez Lugo added a second, placing a beautiful chip shot over the head of Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jesus Corona. Aldo Ramirez sprung Marquez Lugo with a beautiful pass on the play, and for the second time in as many minutes the Cruz Azul defense looked lost.
It had taken barely twelve minutes for Morelia to climb out of their 0-2 first leg hole, and with the aggregate score now 2-2, Monarcas were suddenly in position to advance as the higher-seeded team. Morelia refused to slow down, though, and kept the pressure on for the remainder of the half.
Cruz Azul tried to respond, subbing on Javier Orozco, Isaac Romo, and Cesar Villaluz as the game wore on. No one for Cruz Azul seemed to have the magic touch. At the other end, the Morelia attack with Marquez Lugo, Elias Hernandez, and Joao Rojas leading the way was just too much. Corona made a few saves to keep his team in the game, but in the end it would be all for naught.
In the 88th minute Cruz Auzl got their best chance of the night. Gerardo Torrado played a ball into the box, which Julio Cesar Dominguez one-timed to the middle where Javier Orozco teed up in front of an open goal. Out of nowhere, Morelia defender Joel Huiqui slid in and blocked the shot with his leg. It was an astonishing individual play, and one that had to be incredibly satisfying for Huiqui. A former Cruz Azul player, Huiqui was frequently criticized by La Maquina’s fan base, and was essentially cut by the team at the end of the Apertura 2010 season. Now facing his former club, he singlehandedly prevented Cruz Azul from taking the aggregate series lead, and probably kept them from advancing to the finals.
But for Cruz Azul, it was not to be. Almost immediately, Morelia turned the ball upfield. Miguel Sabah led the breakaway, working the ball to Jamie Lozano who finished for the 3-0 lead. His goal was a dagger to the heart of Cruz Azul, and put an exclamation point on Morelia’s trip to the finals. It was an amazing sequence, and one that would have clearly been the story of the game if not for what happened next.
As the stadium erupted in celebration of the Morelia goal, a fan ran onto the field and stopped in front of Torrado with an outstretched hand. Cruz Azul's Chaco Gimenez lunged at the fan with feet and hands flying, and both teams instantly came together. In the craziness, as the invading spectator was finally pulled off the field, Morelia assistant coach Sergio Martin slapped Cruz Azul defender Waldo Ponce with an open hand across the cheek. In retaliation, Jesus Corona followed Martin to the sideline, and unleashed a violent head-butt straight to Martin's face. As referee Francisco Chacon Guiterrez finally regained control, he handed out red cards to Sergio Martin, Miguel Sabah, and manager Tomas Boy for Morelia. And red cards to Chaco Gimenez, Julio Cesar Dominguez, and Isaac Romo for Cruz Azul.
It was an unfortunate end to what should have been a night of celebration in Morelia. Now as the team moves on to face Pumas in the finals, they will be forced to deal with the suspension of their manager, as well as the loss of Sabah and any other players whom the FMF decides to discipline.
Videos of the brawl below:
pelea cruz azul 0 morelia 3 2011 (via molinex)
pelea y cabesazo CRUZ AZUL vs MORELIA la semifinal 5/15/11 (via nieto43)
Cabezazo De Corona! HD (via 51jacobi51)
Bronca en el Monarcas vs Cruz Azul Semifinal 2011 (via F00TBALLLNEWS)