Eliás Hernández converted his second penalty of the season as 10 man Cruz Azul held off a decent performance by Tijuana.
The game wast stopped in the fourth minute after a nasty collision between Adrián Aldrete and Igor Lichnovsky, as the teammates both went in hard after a ball. Aldrete seemed to bear the brunt of the collision, but hobbled off of the pitch under his own power and would be waved back on after a brief period, his right knee bloodied from Lichnovsky’s cleats.
True to their reputation, Cruz Azul was happy to keep men behind the ball while conceding possession to the visitors. As such, while Tijuana had long stretches in the Cruz Azul end with the ball, they had difficulty getting any quality chances.
In the 17th minute, Jonathan “Cabecito” Rodríguez would get a good opportunity when he was able to break down the left wing and go in on Xolos goalkeeper Gibran Lajud, however his shot was well read by the goalkeeper and pushed wide of the goal.
in the 20th minute, Cabecito would break again, and Lajud would come off of his line to make a sliding tackle. The referee pointed to the spot indicating a penalty, however he’d head over to the VAR booth to take a second look. The second look confirmed that it was a penalty, and Eliás Hernández would convert, shooting to Lajud’s right while Lajud dove left.
In the 34th minute Xolos would have a real chance when Gustavo “Pantera” Bou was able to slip his man and go in on goal, but Jesús “Chuy” Corona would make a fine save to push the ball wide of the goal. In the 37th Chuy would need to make another great save, this time on a Fabián Castillo shot from close range.
At the other end of the pitch in the 40th minute, Martín Cauteruccio would beat the offside trap and go in on Lajud, but the goalkeeper was able to make a kick-save to deny Caute his first goal of the season. After four minutes of stoppage time, the half was called.
Aldrete would be re-injured shortly after the start of the second half, and would be subbed off for José Madueña. In the 52nd minute, Miller Bolaños would play a perfect ball out to an open Fabián Castillo out on the left. Castillo had a tight angle, and would push his shot high and wide.
Xolos would seem to get a break in the 59th minute when Eustáquio went in high and hard on Miller Bolaños and would see a straight red card. Referee Oscar Mejia García would head back to the VAR booth, and upon review negate the red card and show Eustáquio a yellow instead. Minutes later, Xolos manager Oscar Pareja would be shown a red card which would not be overturned by VAR for a yellow.
Xolos newcomer Ariel Nahuelpán came on in the 71st minute and made an immediate impact. His physicality and fearlessness in the box created space for Bou to work while Nahuelpán bulldozed his way through defenders.
Eustáquio would come off injured in the 80th minute when he landed awkwardly and seemed to wrench his knee, forcing Cruz Azul to play the remainder of the match down a man. In the 82nd minute, Eliás Hernández would send a shot whistling just past the outside of the post on Gibran Lajud’s goal. A minute later, Luis Chávez would hit a free kick that whistled just past the outside of the post on Chuy Corona’s goal.
Xolos would really apply pressure in stoppage, and Luis Chávez hit a shot through traffic that looked promising but Chuy Corona was able to smother it. Xolos would have another chance late when Fabián Castillo would float a ball into the box that Antonio Nava would get a touch on that actually beat Chuy Corona but was cleared off of the line to preserve the win for La Maquina.
Cruz Azul will head to Guanjuato to face León on Saturday. Tijuana will head back home, where they’ll face Toluca on Saturday as well.
Cruz Azul: Jesús Corona; Igor Lichnovsky, Julio Domínguez, Adrián Aldrete (José Madueña, 48’), Pablo Aguilar; Javier Salas, Eliás Hernández, Rafael Baca, Roberto Alvarado (Eustáquio, 57’); Martín Cauteruccio (Édgar Méndez, 72’), Jonathan Rodríguez
Esta es la alineación de La Máquina presentada por @calientesports con la que enfrentará a Xolos.— CRUZ AZUL FC ® (@Cruz_Azul_FC) January 26, 2019
Los jugadores suplentes son:
21. Jair Peláez
27. José Madueña
31. Orbelín Pineda
3. Stephen Eustáquio
17. Edgar Méndez
14. Misael Domínguez
9. Milton Caraglio#EternamenteAzul pic.twitter.com/jXS59vQgPn
Tijuana: Gibran Lajud; Luis Fuentes, Diego Braghieri, Julián Velázquez, Omar Mendoza; Fabián Castillo, Diego González (Ariel Nahuelpán, 71’), Diego Rodríguez, Ignacio Rivero (Antonio Nava, 86’); Miller Bolaños (Luis Chávez, 77’), Gustavo Bou
Scoring: Cruz Azul - Eliás Hernández (Penalty - 24’); Tijuana - None
Disciplinary: Cruz Azul - Eustaquio (Yellow - 61’); Tijuana - Diego González (Yellow - 31’), Julián Velázquez (Yellow - 42’)