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Cruz Azul vs. Club America, 2013 Liguilla: Final score 1-0, Blue Machine hold on for good result

America dominated the entire second half, but couldn't find an away goal and will be at a disadvantage against Cruz Azul in the second leg of the 2013 Clausura Liguilla final.

Cruz Azul fans at Estadio Azul, used under Creative Commons license
Cruz Azul fans at Estadio Azul, used under Creative Commons license
Flickr user Stadiumguide

In a thoroughly drab game, Cruz Azul scored one goal in the first half, then proceeded to sit on their lead for the remainder of the match. Club America had all of the ball and plenty of chances in the second half, but the hosts defended spectacularly at Estadio Azul and head to the Azteca with a 1-0 lead.

Half-chances on long shots were all either side produced until 'Chaco' Cristian Gimenez scored the game's only goal in uncharacteristic fashion in the 20th minute. Instead of taking his side's corner kick, he put himself into the center of the box, and it paid off. He wasn't tracked by America and got up to direct a header past Moises Muñoz.

While the first half was very even, the second half was completely dominated by Club America. Gerardo Torrado was overrun by Jesus Molina and Juan Carlos Medina, and his forwards did him no favors by giving the ball away constantly.

America's best chances came in the 53rd minute, when they forced Jesus Corona into back-to-back saves. His first, from open play on a header by 'Chucho' Cristian Benitez, was a spectacular reaction save that set up a corner. Aquivaldo Mosquera met that corner with a header, but could only put his shot into the arms of Corona. The Cruz Azul keeper came up big again in the 56th minute, stopping a 25-yard volley from Medina.

Mosquera was lucky to avoid a sending off in the 60th minute. He delivered a light -- but obviously deliberate -- headbutt to Gimenez which the referee didn't see clearly. Chaco went down easily to sell it, but there was no question that the headbutt constituted violent conduct. Mosquera only saw a yellow card for his part in the incident.

Javier Orozco had Cruz Azul's only real chance of the second half in the 68th minute, when Chaco played him in on goal with a quick free kick. Catching America's defense off guard, he chipped a long ball towards Orozco who went around 'Maza' Francisco Rodriguez, but pushed his finish wide of the far post.

While he's been very good lately, Teofilo Gutierrez had a poor game, and his frequent giveaways and poor decisions in the second half led to numerous dangerous America attacks. In the 83rd minute, he was removed for Mariano Pavone, who recently returned to training from an injury and was presumed out for this match. With Pavone's presence and superior composure, Cruz Azul were able to comfortably hang on to a 1-0 win.