El Classico Joven in Estadio Azul. The highlight of the quarterfinals didn’t disappoint. We had a team in Cruz Azul under Paco Jemez with a new approach to a domestic title drought stricken club that has La Maquina inspired in a way i haven’t seen in a long time. Then on the other side of the ring was America, with three wins over Cruz Azul this season, they were looking experienced and ready to grind it out under El Piojo Herrera’s guidance.
The tempo was set from the beginning, yellow card for Mateus Uribe in the sixth minute. Referee Jorge Rojas knew nerves were high and wanted to ease the players and crowd. It didn’t work as nine cards were issued throughout the game, two of them being reds for Las Aguilas. America was left gasping for air as if someone hadn’t told them the game had started or at least it looked so by the foul Mateus committed. Cruz Azul came out of the gate pressing hard but America responded well winning fouls and giving themselves some space as well as slowing the tempo down. At times the back four of America bending but not breaking thanks to Vargas covering his area supremely well. Cruz Azul held possession majority of the first half causing America to retreat and condense which didn’t bode well for Cruz Azul with a couple blocked shots in the first half from America. All La Maquina was missing was play in the final third of the field to create space and make that final pass to assist Silva or Mora.
Flores for La Maquina was doing all he could and showed moments of brilliance from the sliding tackle in defense he made in the eighth minute that if he not made would have left Vargas for a one on one against Corona, to his brilliant back heel flick to set up Mendez’s run for the cross that set up Silva for their best opportunity in the first half. The Most they could conjure up was a few headers into Mora, who granted is very tall, but Marchesin aerially was on his game, nothing represents that better than the save he made against Mora in the 23th minute. Six minutes later Mateus goes in hard on Dominguez trying to win the ball but then proceeds to stomp all over the side of Dominguez’s foot causing referee Jorge Rojas to send him off with a straight red on top of the yellow he received in minute six. If Aguilas do advance this will surely hurt them, they were down to ten men.
America had been on their heels seeing limited offensive opportunities until they lost a man, and until minute 34 when America caught Cruz Azul slipping wth two shots coming from a Quintero corner. The ball landed to Guido Rodriguez who’s direct shot was saved by Corona but dropped falling into the feet of Pablo Aguilar who kicked it wide left. That was their best opportunity to score an away goal the whole night so far.
Chaos then ensued with America taking advantage when a cross came in from America and ending with Dominguez getting tangled up with Paul Aguilar. The referee then called for a penalty. Captain to captain Corona and Peralta traded glances. Peralta took a couple steps before running up, and Corona saved his shot, first with his hands and then with his leg kicking it forward to a teamate. America was stunned.
El Piojo Herrera in the second half seemed to be more offensively inclined with America pushing forward, Cruz Azul was for once countering and finding some space between Las Aguilas’ midfield. The risk was starting to pay off for Las Aguilas when Quintero rifled a shot from the outside of the box to the left, Corona made an easy save in the 65th minute.
Cruz Azul started trying to go for the win when they replaced Martin Rodriguez with Martín Cauteruccio, a fresh forward, and replacing Angel Mena for Rafael Bacca. But Marchesin put on a show tonight. He was a wall not letting anything in, saving Mora’s header which was set up by Silva’s corner in the 76th minute. Again in the 82th minute, Marchesin was a man possessed, saving another header but this time from Roco.
Peralta and Quintero come out minutes in between one another so Herrera could secure the tie, being replaced by Pedro Arce and Gerson Torres. Minutes after Edson Alvarez got his second yellow, which means they will miss arguably one of the brightest national team prospects next game. America had to play the next five minutes with nine men, holding off la Maquina.
Marchesin put together one of the games of his career with La Maquina attacking constantly. Edson Alvarez, though, may have made the play of the night preserving Marchesin’s clean sheet, and hopefully Las Aguilas can take advantage of his sacrifice in the second leg. On the other hand, Cruz Azul’s key for the second leg is simple, cover their chances. One thing is for certain, though, the second leg will be a spectacle to watch.
Man of The Match: Agustin Marchesin
Cruz Azul Lineup:
José Corona, Enzo Roco, Julian Velazquez, Gabriel Peñalba, Julio Domínguez, Gerardo Flores, Francisco Silva, Rafael Baca (Angel Mena), Martín Rodriguez (Martín Cauteruccio), Édgar Méndez, Felipe Mora.
Subs: Adrián Aldrete, Guillermo Allison, Omar Mendoza, Victor Zuniga, Kevin Montaño.
Agustín Marchesín, Pablo Aguilar, Bruno Valdez, Edson Álvarez, Guido Rodríguez, Mateus Uribe, Carlos Vargas, Paul Aguilar, Oribe Peralta (Pedro Arce), William (Alejandro Díaz), Darwin Quintero (Gerson Torres).
Subs: Óscar Jiménez, Silvio Romero, Diego Lainez, Aldo Cruz.
7' Mateus Uribe (América) yellow card.
14' Gabriel Peñalba (Cruz Azul) yellow card.
25' Enzo Roco (Cruz Azul) yellow card.
30' Mateus Uribe (América) red card.
71' Substitution, Cruz Azul. Martín Cauteruccio in for Martín Rodríguez.
71' Substitution, Cruz Azul. Ángel Mena in for Rafael Baca.
72' Paul Aguilar (América) yellow card.
73' Francisco Silva (Cruz Azul) yellow card.
78' Substitution, América. Alejandro Díaz in for William Da Silva.
81' Edson Álvarez (América) yellow card.
85' Substitution, América. Pedro Arce in for Oribe Peralta.
88' Bruno Valdéz (América) yellow card.
89' Substitution, América. Gerson Torres in for Carlos Quintero.
90' Second yellow card to Edson Álvarez (red) (América).