Cruz Azul got a great start against a woeful Pumas team to get a 4-0 win and all but settle the series. Cruz Azul had a great start and took advantage of a terrible game from key Pumas players to easily defeat them, basically settling the series. Cruz Azul will now need to not lose by a big score to get a chance at a title they probably are now the favorite to win. Pumas meanwhile continued their terrible performances in the Liguilla, where they could easily be the worst team since the Quarterfinals started and seem to have given away all the good will they had from fans this season as they will now need a miracle to get to the final.
The first half started with Pumas going with the same starting lineup as their last game out against Pachuca, and Cruz Azul also came with their strong starting lineup. The game started and it didn’t take long for Cruz Azul to get things started. After a corner kick, Alan Mozo made a terrible mistake, allowing Roberto Alvarado to be onside after getting the ball from a cross and he got a right footed shot past Pumas’ goalkeeper Julio Gonzalez. It was a terrible mistake by Mozo, as the defense tried to get the player offside and not doing so gifted the home team a prime shot on goal. Pumas would be even in more trouble when Cruz Azul had an incredible goal five minutes later. After a ball was blocked by a defender, it fell to Rafael Baca from way outside the area but he was able to get a rocket of a long range shot that went into the angle for the 2-0 lead. It was a remarkable shot and unlike the first, Pumas couldn’t do much this time. Pumas was reeling and Cruz Azul had another shot on goal from Alvarado that went wide. They failed to do so and once again with a great shot from Luis Romo from outside the area, after a play that started with another terrible giveaway from Mozo, Cruz Azul got the score to 3-0 and looked to have settled the game and the series. Cruz Azul had another chance after Mozo lost the ball making a dumb flair play, but Pumas’ defense was able to clear the ball. Adrian Aldrete was injured and had to be subbed out for Joaquin Martinez in Cruz Azul’s first move. Pumas had their first chance when Juan Ignacio Dinenno’s shot fell to Facundo Waller, who got off a shot that was blocked by Cruz Azul’s defense. Cruz Azul would have another chance when Romo got another shot from inside the area but it went wide. Cruz Azul continued to dominate, and even when they were creating dangerous opportunity they still were pressuring Pumas and holding them in their area. Romo would have another shot that Gonzalez was able to handle. Pumas continued to attack but most of the attacks were through Carlos Gutierrez, who was having a terrible game and crashed all his crosses into the Cruz Azul defenders. The halftime whistle blew and Cruz Azul had a great lead while Pumas played their worst 45 minutes in the most important match of the season.
The second half started with Pumas subbing out Alan Mozo (who had a terrible game) and Facundo Waller for Juan Iturbe and Sebastian Saucedo. It didn’t take long for Pumas to have their first chance when Alejandro Mayorga got into the area and got off a right footed shot that forced Cruz Azul’s goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona to make a good save. For the first time in the game, Pumas was on the offense and controlling possession although to be fair, Cruz Azul’s three goal advantage allowed the team to sit back. Cruz Azul subbed out Orbelin Pineda for Yoshimar Yotun as they tried to get back the control of the midfield. Pumas got another chance when Dinenno got off a right footed shot that Corona handled. Just as Pumas was playing better, Cruz Azul struck with a counter and looked to have scored. Jonathan Rodriguez made a run and got off a shot that forced Gonzalez to make a save, but Roberto Alvarado got to the rebound and got off a strong left footed shot past Gonzalez. It looked like the fourth goal of the evening, but the play was reviewed by the VAR official and ruled to have been offside, saving Pumas. Pumas answered by subbing out Carlos Gonzalez, who also had a terrible performance, for Bryan Mendoza. The change helped the team and Pumas started getting the ball, with a shot by Sebastian Saucedo getting a shot off that looked like it was deflected with a possible handball by Pablo Aguilar. The ref went to the VAR and ruled that it was accidental. Cruz Azul subbed out Roberto Alvarado (who had a great game) for Sebastian Gimenez, in their final move of the game. Pumas made another move when they subbed out Erik Lira for Andres Iniestra. Pumas continued to attack but did so without much idea, and Cruz Azul was able to handle them easily. Iniestra had a good shot from outside the area, but it went wide. Cruz Azul answered with a counter that was finished with a left footed shot by Gimenez that was deflected by Johan Vasquez. Then off a great counter attack, Gimenez found Luis Romo, who got off a right footed shot in the area past Gonzalez for the 4-0 lead. Minutes later the game was finished and Cruz Azul looks to have finished the series in the first leg.
Cruz Azul struck at the right time, and once again had a great first leg performance, just as they did against Tigres. They took advantage of terrible defense and the confusion from Pumas to score three goals and settle things. Although they later gave up possession, they were able to handle a Pumas team who were never able to create much. Cruz Azul will now only need to not get crushed in CU and seem to have booked their ticket to the final. Pumas meanwhile wasted a great season and all the fanfare on 45 minutes. Just like in 2018, a great season is thrown out the window with a crushing defeat in Estadio Azteca. In the Clausura 2018, it was a third place season that ended with a crushing 6-1 defeat against Club America, their biggest rival. Now coach Andres Lillini and his wonderful second place season seems to be going to follow the same pattern after losing 4-0 against the other city rival. A game like that could mark several players like Carlos Gutierrez, who had a terrible game and especially Alan Mozo, who was the worst player on the pitch and key in two of the three early goals. Now although they have one more game, it seems they will end it in the worst way once again.