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Club America crush Pumas to open the Liguilla

America beat Pumas 4-1 and look set to cruise to the semifinals.

Pumas UNAM v America - Playoffs Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Club America crushed Pumas in a great win for the Televisa team and a total embarrassment for the hosts. America took the lead in the 1st minute of the game and never looked back, as they totally dominated the match. America’s coach Miguel Herrera owned Pumas’ coach David Patiño and gave new life to an America team that was going through their worst streak. Pumas has one foot on the door, and the loss is a new low for the tenure of Pumas president, Rodrigo Ares de Parga, which has been of the worst in recent times. America now looks set to qualify, while Pumas would need to win by four goals to go through to the Semifinal.

Pumas started the game in the worst way possible. A foul in the area made for a free kick, and some terrible defending followed in the area that allowed Matheus Uribe to score a minute into the game. Pumas definitely looked overconfident and asleep against a Pumas team that was tough on paper, if not in recent play.

While Pumas answered back with a good play by Marcelo Diaz to Nico Castillo, the forward was not able to score. After that it became all America, who went close to doubling the lead with a free kick. The ball hit the post and Pumas was saved for a while.

Then a bad call by the ref once again went against Pumas. A cross bounced off the leg of Luis Quintana into his hand and the ref called it for a penalty. Pumas protested and that almost lead to a fight between teammates when Alejandro Arribas got yellow carded and kept applauding the ref, which caused Diaz to call him out and almost led to shoving. Jeremy Menez converted the penalty for the 2-0.

Pumas went into even worse disarray after the goal and America took advantage. A throw-in play went to Uribe, who made a marvelous long range goal for the 3-0.

It looked like Pumas was out of it, and although they gained control of possession for the first time in the game, it looked bad for them. Then off a corner kick, the ref saw a push and Pumas got a penalty kick. Castillo took and converted it with a strong PK. The first half, however, ended with America once again having more of the ball.

The second half was more of the same. Although Pumas picked it up, America kept being the better team. Cecilio Dominguez missed a wide open chance when he skied it over.

Just when Pumas started improving for the second time in the match, it would come crashing down once again. Goalkeeper Alfredo Saldivar, who had became the hero in the last games of the season, botched a play twice and gave America another penalty. He first failed to handle an easy ball, and after losing it, tripped the America player. Menez scored his second penalty for the final goal of the game.

Pumas had more of the ball, but outside of a Gallardo shot and a Castillo wide open header miss, they never came close to scoring. America held on to a historic win and Pumas’s mediocre season hit rock bottom.

The series looks finished in favor of America. Even though Pumas generally play well at the Azteca, it would take a historic comeback for them to go through against a coach that has had their number. Players and Pumas fans who were aching for a shot at America must be regretting their hubris, as now an even bigger stain falls on a year that has been a total roller coaster. The only good thing might be that the mirage of a season might have shielded the top brass and the coaching staff for criticism, but this series will open a lot of eyes to the terrible job done in many areas.

For America it’s a huge boost. Herrera’s side had been playing poorly, and had been upstaged by their failure in CONCACAF Champions League, tournament their main rival ended up winning. Few people talked about them being a candidate for the title but this changes now. This game has skyrocketed their chances at another title, while it has crippled Pumas’.