Chivas and America played to a scoreless draw on Thursday night at the Estadio Omnilife, as both teams finished with 10 men on the pitch.
It was a feisty engagement that saw both teams threatening in the first half. America had a flurry of chances around the 34-minute mark, but were unable to capitalize thanks to the heroics of Rodolfo Cota. His stellar showing between the posts made sure there was no away goal on the night.
The officiating will certainly be a hot topic as these teams move on to the second leg. Rubens Sambueza and Angel Zaldivar both saw red while many will speculate there were other missed calls that could've been penalties.
Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see how Chivas fares, considering they seldom produced chances in their time being a man up on their rivals. For America, life without Rubens Sambueza is always a struggle, but a reality they will have to come to terms with when both teams clash on Sunday.
GK, Rodolfo Cota, Chivas:
Cota had a busy night with most of his activity coming in the first half. His most notable save came in the 33rd minute when he managed to get his gloves on a rocket of a shot from Quintero to preserve the 0-0 tie. He was easily Chivas' most important figure and displayed the consistency that won him a starting job this season.
Isaác Brizuela, Midfielder, Chivas:
Brizuela was a terror down his flank early on in the game and provided some early shots when creativity was lacking. His tenacity was refreshing, as he did not shy away from going face to face with America defenders and often leaving them in his dust. He was arguably one of Chivas' most active players on the pitch when it came to arming the attack.
Andrés Andrade, Midfielder, America:
He nearly gave the Aguilas the advantage in the 54th minute when he left a Chivas defender on the ground near midfield only to make a run into the box and put his shot over the net. He forced Cota to step up and certainly made fans hold their breath in the stands when he had the ball on the move.
Oribe Peralta, Forward, America:
Peralta was very unselfish in the last half of the pitch for America. He was the perfect complement to Quintero and accentuated his game, creating clear chances out of decent build up. Peralta's quietly solid outing could bring a loud ovation if his side manages to take advantage of his play in the second leg.
Rubens Sambueza, Midfielder, America:
Sambueza did his side no favors earning a yellow card in the 28th minute and appeared a step too slow when he tried pushing forward. He struggled to keep up with the fast pace until he was shown a second yellow and thus a red to end his night when he fouled a charging Isaác Brizuela from behind in the 61st minute. As a result of the red card, Sambueza will also be missing the return leg at the Estadio Azteca.
Pablo Aguilar, Defender, America:
Aguilar made a few unnecessary fouls that wound up earning him a yellow card in the 58th minute. This was probably the last thing America needed as disciplinary issues have marred their performances in the season and past Liguilla performances alike. He also failed to capitalize on a 34th minute header when America was looking the most menacing.
Angel Zaldivar, Forward, Chivas:
After having very little involvement in any meaningful buildup, Zaldivar's night came to an end in the 82nd minute. This was a huge morale hit for Chivas, considering it meant relinquishing their one-man advantage for the game. Zaldivar, like Sambueza, will also miss the trip to the Azteca for the second leg of the tie due to the red.
Omar Bravo, Forward, Chivas:
Coming on for one of Chivas' most active players in the 71st minute, Bravo seemed like the perfect substitute to strike victoriously with America being a man down. The stage was set for the veteran to find the back of the net once more, but he never saw too much of the ball. One could say that it was a failure on his part to not read and adjust to the state of the game more effectively or that it was the team's fault for lacking creativity as a whole. Regardless, Bravo's substitution had little to no effect as the game fizzled out to a scoreless draw.