The final edition of the Clásico Joven in the historic Estadio Azul did not fail to disappoint despite a scoreless result after 90 minutes of action. In fact, the match had everything you could have possibly wanted in a postseason rivalry match apart from goals. Cards, including two of the red variety, were flying for players on both teams as hard tackle after hard tackle came flying in across the pitch. There were also penalties, countless corners, and seemingly impossible heroic efforts by both goalkeepers to keep the scoreline level!
As expected Cruz Azul came out of the gates with an energy and intensity unlike anything that they had exhibited over the course of the regular season. For the first 25-30 or so minutes it seemed almost inevitable that la Maquina were going to score. Cruz Azul wingers, thanks to their 4-3-3 formation, were flying down the wings and whipping dangers crosses into the box with relative ease. However, despite their best effort, none of the chances resulted in goals thanks to a valiant effort from the Club América central defenders.
The first real noteworthy event in the match came in the 31st minute as Matheus Uribe received a straight red card for his brutal tackle on an attacking Cruz Azul player just outside the top of the area. The tackle was a no doubt red card. Uribe’s spikes were up and dangerously clattered into the leg of the attacking player. The tackle was completely unnecessary from Uribe who had 2-3 other defenders behind him on the play. It’ll be interesting to see how Club América copes with the loss of one of their better players in the second leg.
Instead of regressing back into a defensive shell following the dismissal of Uribe, las Águilas seemed to be energized by the loss of their exciting midfield player. A mere four minutes later Club América won a penalty of their own when Darwin Quintero was brought down in the box by a clumsy challenge while chasing down a long cross. Team captain Oribe Peralta stepped up to take the penalty and in typical Club America fashion had his lame duck effort saved by JJ Corona.
The missed penalty seemed to take the air out of the Club América attack for the rest of the match as the team was forced into a more defensive shape to compensate for the fact that they had to play with a man down for the vast majority of the match. This defensive approach allowed Cruz Azul to once again dictate the style of play in the match. However, much like the time before Uribe’s sending off la Maquina struggled to break down the compact Águila defense.
As the match wore on, La Maquina got progressively closer and closer to breaking down the compact defense of Club América. At one point, it seemed like Cruz Azul was taking corner after corner after corner. Eventually one of the corners found the head of an attacking player and was dangerously close to a goal. However, las Águilas keeper Marchesín made a phenomenal one handed save to prevent his team from falling behind.
In the last ten minutes of the match disaster once again struck for Club América as Edson Álvarez picked up his second yellow card of the match for a hard tackle that prevented what would have been a Cruz Azul breakaway goal. Now las Águilas will be missing two key players for the return leg. Definitely not the position that Miguel Herrera wanted to find himself in after tonight’s match.