The best team doesn't always win. This axiom holds true in all sports. The "any given Sunday" cliché used by NFL pundits alludes to this. The best team won't always win the game, but the team who has a better day will be victorious. Certainly true for the NFL, basketball, and usually baseball. But it's not necessarily true in soccer. One team can play a far superior game, be the dominant team throughout the day's match but come up short. It happens all the time. It looked like it was going to happen this weekend in Guadalajara. Until it suddenly didn't.
Cruz Azul and Chivas faced off last night at the Estadio Omnilife in Guadalajara. Chivas were riding their new found success with two consecutive wins (their only two on this season). Cruz Azul came off an impressive four goal showing against Monterrey. This match among two of the "big four" in Mexican soccer was sure to draw a great deal of interest.
The outcome of this one was certainly interesting. Chivas played at a level far superior to that of Cruz Azul. Chivas were more aggressive, controlled the ball, and remained stout defensively. They amassed twenty-two shots, thirteen of those being on goal and took nine corner kicks. When compared to Cruz Azul's seven shots and zero corners the disparity in play becomes a little clearer. Chivas were the better team yesterday. Yet, Cruz Azul would take the lead in the 22nd minute and hold on to it for the majority of the match. Much like many of Cruz Azul's goals, this one would come off of a Chaco Giminez free kick. Chaco delivered a killer free kick from about thirty yards out to the corner of the goal which was saved by Luis Michel. Emanuel 'Tito' Villa wisely followed up and headed in the rebound.
As the first half passed and play continued in the second, this match was starting to resemble one of ultimate frustration for the home side. Chivas continued the onslaught to no avail. The play of Jesus Corona was once again tremendous in the back as he collected saves by the handful. Heading towards stoppage time he was surely to be the man of the match. However, Erick 'Cubo' Torres and every keeper's nemesis the untimely deflection had different plans. In the 88th minute, Torres took a hard angle shot from the edge of the box which found a useful deflection off Nestor Araujo. This play leveled the score and seemingly locked up a draw. But the last minute craziness was not over. Just three minutes later, firmly into stoppage time, Torres and Araujo began to get a little chippy. There was some small pushing back and forth away from the ball. When Torres began to jog back toward the play, Aruajo temporarily lost his mind while channeling the spirit of his goalkeeper. Araujo delivered a head butt to the back of Torres's head. While it is somewhat questionable how much force Araujo actually delivered or how much damage was done, they definitely knocked heads. For this Araujo was carded and because this took place in the box, a penalty was awarded to Chivas. The final play of the match would be Hector Reynoso knocking the penalty kick past Corona to give Chivas the win.
Chivas were the better team on Saturday. That was clear. Did they deserve to win this match? That one is up for debate.