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America cruise to Liguilla Semifinals

America win 2-1 against a nine-man Pumas and book their ticket to the Semifinals

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

America easily dispatched a Pumas team that self-destructed to grab the first ticket to the Liguilla Semifinals. Another terrible mistake by Luis Fuentes allowed for a counter attack for Mateus Uribe to once again give America an early lead. To make matters worse for Pumas, they got a red card after a terrible job done by referee Marco Antonio Ortiz. Ortiz would later also wrongly red card Nicolas Castillo, and Pumas finished with nine men and the 2-1 loss. America got a big boost, and the team that came with the most doubts, is now one of the main candidates for the title. Pumas, meanwhile, got embarrassed, and after finishing last place last season, they just threw away all the good feelings fans had for this team after being embarrassed by their main rival.

America looked to be set to go to the semifinals but had the danger of maybe being overconfident against a team that was going to be intense from the start. That intensity turned out to be a problem when Luis Fuentes lost the ball and gave America a counter attack that finished with an Uribe goal. Fuentes had previously been the one to make the mistake against Uribe that gave him a goal a minute into the first leg. Fuentes once again showed that, while he hasn’t gotten the complaints others have, he was clearly Pumas worst defender at this time.

Pumas now had an even bigger mountain to climb and the action got to them in the most baffling way possible. A controversial foul was called and Pumas players protested, but instead of calming things down, referee Marco Antonio Ortiz made things worse and started giving out yellow cards at an incredibly fast pace. This resulted in Marcelo Diaz getting a red because of the two yellow cards. Pumas now had a man down and the need to score 5 goals, a seemingly impossible feat.

Still, America slowed down their pace and in the last minutes of the half, Jesus Gallardo made a great run and was able to score and tie the game.

The second half continued with America playing at a slow pace. On the other hand, Pumas tried to go all out but couldn’t do much because of being down a man. Pumas made some attacks but it looked like things would remain the same until another controversial call was made. Nico Castillo came in late for a ball but didn’t make contact with the America player until later. The ref still decided it was a straight red and Pumas went down to nine. Being down two players proved to be too much for Pumas, and even when America was not as intense going forward, they controlled the game and were able to score the 2-1. Andres Ibarguen was allowed time and space and shoot it in the corner for the final score.

America’s confidence looks to be soaring after this series. While they had a bad finish to their regular season, they now become one of the candidates, if not the main candidate for the title. Pumas meanwhile will go into the offseason in a damaged state, with rumors abound that they will sell Jesus Gallardo and Nicolas Castillo, two of the key offensive pieces. America is set to rise up, and Pumas looks set to crumble.