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Cruz Azul escapes “Cruzazuleada” and get to Copa MX Final with shootout win against Leon.

Cruz Azul beats Leon in a penalty shootout (5-3), after finishing in a 1-1 draw.

Cruz Azul v Monterrey - Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Cruz Azul came close to one of their famous failures (called Cruzazuleadas) when a ten-man Leon took them all the way to penalties but were able come through to win it and claim a spot in the Copa MX final against Monterrey. At home, Cruz Azul was the dominant team and they got a huge stroke of luck when Mauro Boselli, Leon’s best player, got red carded in the first half. That, however, was not enough, and when Leon took the lead, it looked like the ghost of Cruz Azul’s history was going to visit once again. Eventually, Cruz Azul was able to tie it but didn’t do enough to stop the game from going into a penalty shootout. In the shootout, they did their job and scored all penalties, while Walter Gonzalez missed his for Leon, to win the shootout 5-3. They will now play the final against Monterrey, who also went through with a penalty shootout victory.

Cruz Azul came in as the favorite team to get to the final. Not only were they at home but they are having one of the better seasons in recent history. Cruz Azul had the better chances with Roberto Alvarado coming close and Elias Hernandez having an opportunity saved by Leon’s keeper William Yarbrough. Still it was an event in the other end that changed everything. Mauro Boselli went up for a ball and was judged to elbow Julio Cesar Dominguez and got red carded. Not only did this mean that they were down a man, but it meant the visitors lost their best player.

After the red card, Cruz Azul dominated the rest of the half but couldn’t score, and the start of the second half had more of the same, with Cruz Azul dominating and Leon sitting back.

Despite this, Leon opened the scoring after a great play by Fernando Navarro. Navarro went through two players and scored a low shot. The goal made Cruz Azul need to push up but the ghosts of their past started creeping in. The pressure made it that, although Cruz Azul was dominating, their attacks weren’t dangerous at all.

Leon looked comfortable defending until the physical aspect started failing them. Adrian Aldrete tied the game when his long range goal was deflected and went past Yarbrough.

Cruz Azul then took control of the match and tried to win the game, albeit without much effect.

Leon then had a good counter-attack opportunity wasted when Walter Gonzalez shot the ball instead of waiting for Juan Jose Calero, and Cruz Azul’s goalkeeper Guillermo Alisson almost fumbled a rebound.

Cruz Azul had the possession for the rest of it but never seemed like it was going to end with anything but a penalty kick shootout.

The shootout started and Cruz Azul finally looked the better team. Elias Hernandez, Edgar Mendez and Roberto Alvarado all converted their penalties marvelously. For Leon, Calero and Navarro converted theirs, but Walter Gonzalez missed after taking a terrible shot that got blocked by Allison. Juan Cornejo and William Tesillo converted their kicks for Leon but so did Adrian Aldrete. Finally Matias Cauteruccio scored his to give Cruz Azul the win and the ticket to the final.

Cruz Azul was lucky to get through after the call against Boselli. The move should make for a more exciting Copa MX final, since Leon wouldn’t have Boselli in the final anyway, which would severely hurt them. That said, Cruz Azul must improve if they want to go away to Monterrey and come back with the cup. This is a prime opportunity for them to grab their first piece of silverware of the semester, and one they can’t afford to just let pass by.