Chivas came back from a disappointing first half to strike first and grab a 1-0 win over rival America in the first leg of the Liguilla Quarterfinals. Although Chivas had started as the better team, they were soon dominated by America and were lucky not to be trailing before some key substitutions turned the tide and gave Chivas the possession to get the win. Chivas is now in prime position to go through with the win and with America not getting an away goal, which means that a Chivas away goal on Saturday could do a lot of damage to America’s chances to get to the Semifinals.
The first half started with Chivas having the good news that the injured Jose Juan Macias was able to make it to the bench, although Angel Zaldivar got the start. Club America meanwhile came out with their expected lineup, with the only surprise being Jesus Escoboza. Chivas came out the more urgent side, and Uriel Antuna had a good cross that America’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa had to get to. America later had their first chance when Giovani Dos Santos got a shot off, but Chivas’ goalkeeper Raul Gudiño handled it easily. After a couple of minutes, the game got more even, with both teams having possession but failing to create much danger. America had the best chance of the game when Henry Martin got a close range header that Gudiño stopped with a great save. Later Dos Santos had another shot that Gudiño handled well. A controversial play happened when it looked like Sebastian Caceres had handled a ball, but the ref ruled it not to be a penalty kick. Henry Martin wasted an incredible chance when after Chivas lost a ball in the midfield, he went on a one-on-one against Gudiño. Gudiño ended up winning the battle when he deflected the shot in a play where Martin should’ve done better. After an early good start from Chivas, it was now America who was the better team. After a couple of minutes where things didn’t change, the halftime whistle blew with the scoreless tie continuing.
The second half started with neither team making a substitution. It didn’t take long for America to have an opportunity, with a long range shot by Sebastian Cordova that forced Gudiño to make another great save. Gudiño made another save with a shot from Dos Santos from inside the area. Chivas responded with their best opportunity of the game, when off of a free kick, Jesus Molina headed the ball into the path of Miguel Angel Ponce, but his close range header went just wide. Chivas made substitutions when they subbed out Zaldivar for Oribe Peralta and Fernando Beltran for Cristian Calderon. Chivas came close again when a header off a corner kick by Hiram Mier came close but went wide. Later Chivas had a another good chance when Jesus Ricardo Angulo got into the area, but his shot was blocked. He would then cross the rebound to Calderon, but his shot was deflected by an America defender. Minutes later Angulo would get a shot, but it went wide as Chivas was playing at their best since the start of the game. America had to make a move and subbed out Dos Santos for striker Federico Viñas. Yet it would be Chivas who would almost score a minute after the move when Antuna got a strong cross that Calderon just headed wide. Chivas wasted another chance after a cross into the area found Miguel Angel Ponce, but his shot went wide. America had their best opportunity in a while when Richard Sanchez got a free shot from outside the area, but it went wide. America then subbed out Henry Martin for Nicolas Benedetti and Sebastian Caseres for Ruben Gonzalez. Chivas meanwhile had to sub out Angulo because of injury for Eduardo Torres. Then finally Chivas broke through in the 81st minute in the best way. After a long ball forward, the ball fell outside the area to Cristian Calderon, who got off a long range bomb past Ochoa for the 1-0 lead. America tried to respond by subbing out Escoboza for Andres Ibarguen and Luis Fuentes for Paul Aguilar. Meanwhile Chivas tried to close the game by subbing in defender Antonio Briseño for Uriel Antuna. Chivas was doing a good job of keeping the ball, while America tried desperately to get to the area but couldn’t do it. In injury time it looked like Benedetti had a great opportunity that he wasted when he got a ball in the area, but replays showed that had he scored, it would have been called offside. Chivas held on for the final minute and got a deserved 1-0 win.
Chivas had a great result on Wednesday night after coming back from a lackluster performance early on. The result falls on the shoulder off two players. First it was goalkeeper Raul Gudiño, having a great game and keeping Chivas safe when they were struggling against America. Then it was Cristian Calderon, who gave his best game as a Chivas player and was a turning point after getting subbed in. Not only did he score the goal, but he gave a great performance that troubled America’s defense since he went in. Chivas though will need to improve, because a performance like they had in the first half would make them suffer in Estadio Azteca against America. Meanwhile America will need to improve a lot, especially on offense. It looked clearly like they had Chivas where they wanted, however bad finishing allowed Chivas to escape their troubles and gain the upper hand in the second half. They will need to improve at home, but they are still in a prime position although they must make sure no to get scored on.