Thanks to an early error by the Club Tijuana defense, a wonderstrike and an unbelievable man of the match performance by Moises Muñoz, Club America ran out 2-1 winners at Estadio Caliente despite being reduced to nine men. They picked up their first red card in the 21st minute and their second before the end of the first half, but managed to build on their early 1-0 lead, then hold on for a victory.
Tijuana dominated possession early and looked like the much more likely of the two teams to score until the 11th minute, when 'Chucho' Cristian Benitez drew a penalty. Cristian Pellerano reacted slowly to a surging run and tripped the America striker, leading to an Osvaldo Martinez goal from the spot.
In the 21st minute, Rubens Sambueza, who picked up a yellow card just 30 seconds in the game, went into the book for the second time and was sent off. While the first booking was legitimate, the second was questionable. He fouled Duiver Riascos, but did not hit him in the face, the part of his body that the Colombian went down clutching to draw the booking. On the ensuing free kick, Muñoz came up with a massive save.
America's second sending off came in the 39nd minute, and was much more clear-cut. Aquivaldo Mosquera, who had picked up his first booking for dissent while arguing the Sambueza sending off, was shown his second for tripping Fernando Arce. While the foul wasn't a hard one, it did come from behind, on a man who was running through on goal, and the referee had no choice but to send him off.
Tijuana threw men forward with reckless abandon in the final minutes of the first half, trying to equalize before the break, but failed to find the back of the net.
Thinking that they were safe to attack aggressively with America down to nine, Tijuana were caught out on the counter by the visitors, who shockingly doubled their lead in the 54th minute. Right back Paul Aguilar was the man who notched the goal, hitting the strike of his life over the head of Cirilo Saucedo from 25 yards. He was surrounded by three Tijuana defenders when he took the shot, and their unwillingness to close him down when he had no one to pass to was stunning.
Pablo Aguilar set up a wild finish, finally scoring for Tijuana in the 76th minute off a cross by Raul Enriquez, on a move that Muñoz couldn't do much to prevent. Shockingly, this did not signal America to put all nine men behind the ball and attempt to sit on their lead. They continued to send numbers forward on the counter-attack, which kept Tijuana from being as lethal as possible in their pursuit of an equalizer. As crazy as it was, it ultimately turned out to be an effective tactic.
Joe Corona had an excellent chance to equalize three minutes after the Xolos' first goal, but hit a poor shot wide of the near post from very close range. Tijuana looked to have their chance to secure a point on a scramble in stoppage time, when the ball fell to Aguilar in space to shoot, but his effort was saved spectacularly -- and in unorthodox fashion -- by Muñoz's knees.
This is the kind of result that alters seasons significantly, and it wouldn't be stunning to see both teams feel the effects of this result for some time. These were three massive points for America and could provide a huge boost. Meanwhile, the result will almost certainly be a gutting one for Tijuana.