Cruz Azul went back to their winning ways with a key 2-0 victory over Chivas. It wasn’t the prettiest effort, but Cruz Azul came on top over a disappointing Chivas team, who failed to make an impression against a side that had been struggling. Cruz Azul now climbs temporarily into second place as they prepare for their two tough final games against Monterrey and Pumas. Chivas meanwhile continues to disappoint fans and will need to improve quickly as they finish their season with games against those same rivals, Pumas and Monterrey.
The first half started with the return of Jesus Molina to the starting lineup after his injury against Mazatlan. An even bigger return happened for Cruz Azul with the return of Pablo Aguilar to the starting lineup after missing eight months because of a serious injury. The first minute had Cruz Azul have complete control including the first opportunity with a great run by Orbelin Pineda that was ended by goalkeeper Raul Gudiño getting to clear the ball off his feet. Cruz Azul kept being the better team, but Chivas slowly started getting more of the ball. They had their first chance when Uriel Antuna got the ball in the area, but his left footed shot went wide. Cruz Azul kept being the better team, but didn’t create much danger. Milton Caraglio had started over Santiago Gimenez as one of the starting forwards and he was struggling. Chivas tried to counter and had some success with Antuna, but the rest of the team was being held in check by the Cruz Azul defense. Then Jonathan Rodriguez got brought down in the area by Jesus Sanchez and the referee gave a penalty kick. He went to the VAR and kept the decision. Rodriguez stepped up to take it and converted with a strong right footed shot past Gudiño for the 1-0 lead. Chvias tried to get back into it, but Cruz Azul held on and the halftime whistle blew.
The second half started as Chivas, who outside of Antuna needed to step up especially on the offense as the rest of the players had been invisible. Chivas had the first opportunity when Alexis Vega made his first play of the game getting into the area, but his pass went straight to a Cruz Azul defender. Cruz Azul answered back with a shot from Ignacio Rivero that just went wide. Chivas had their best chance of the game when Miguel Ponce made a great backheel pass that found Antuna, who then gave a pass to Jose Juan Macias, but his shot hit the post and went wide. Chivas then subbed out Jesus Molina and Ricardo Angulo for Fernando Beltran and Dieter Villalpando. Later Antuna came close but his shot went wide. Cruz Azul came real close to scoring when a free kick into the area wasn’t touched by any player and almost bounced into the net. Still the sides had switched and now it was Chivas who had most of the possession and was going into the attack while Cruz Azul sat back and waited. Chivas subbed out Jesus Sanchez for Javier Lopez as they tried to get more into the attack. Minutes later Lopez would get his first chance, but his shot from outside the area went wide. Cruz Azul tried to answer back and they subbed out Orbelin Pineda for Roberto Alvarado. There was a big scare when it looked like Pablo Aguilar was injured, but he was able to continue in the game. Chivas then subbed out Uriel Antuna for Cristian Calderon. Cruz Azul came close again when Luis Romo got to a ball in the area and his left footed shot just went wide. Cruz Azul subbed out Caraglio for Elias Hernandez. After a close chance, Cruz Azul looked to have killed the game when a clearance from goalkeeper Jesus Corona was headed by Alvarado and fell to Rodriguez, who went on a one-on-one run, got past Gudiño and shot it into the net for the 2-0 lead. It looked a little dubious in replays but it still stood. Minutes later the ref blew the whistle and Cruz Azul had gotten the key points.
Once again Chivas failed to live up to expectations. The return of Jesus Molina didn’t seem to help the team as once again Chivas was too predictable, with not much attacking from the middle and wholly dependent on what they created through the wings, which all good teams have been able to handle. Cruz Azul’s goalkeeper, Jesus Corona, didn’t have to make a dangerous save all game. Chivas will need to improve but they really don’t have much in terms of players to change the situation especially since it seems a lot of it is down to coaching. Cruz Azul meanwhile got a victory, although fans might not be as happy with the level of play shown. While the team started great and was dominating, as the game went on they started to lose steam and Chivas had a lot of possession in the second half. Although they failed to create much danger, it was mostly because of Chivas’ mistakes and a better team could have made them pay like Tigres did the week before. Still they got the victory and will be poised as they face two tough games away against Monterrey and at home against Pumas. Chivas meanwhile will have to travel to Mexico City to face Pumas next week and game that should be key while then wait at home for a Monterrey team that is rapidly improving.