Chivas held on against America in a very exiting Superclasico match that ended 4-3. It was a very offensive match with some lackluster defense, but plenty of excitement that lived up to the hype before the match. America improved from their last group stage game against Cruz Azul, but their fans will not be happy with the result as they went out against their biggest rival. Chivas meanwhile will have the happier fans, but they might worry about the problems in defense especially at goalkeeping, with no reassurances that things will change before the start of the season next Saturday.
In a rainy Estadio Olimpico Universitario, the biggest game in Mexico started and it took 20 seconds for Chivas to open the score. A great pass from Isaac Brizuela found Jose Juan Macias, and he got a low shot past America keeper Guillermo Ochoa for the 1-0. America then tried to counter and looked like they might have gotten a PK when a Chivas defender dived with his hand up, but replays showed it hit his stomach. Then they came close again when a Sebastian Cordova cross found Federico Viñas but his header went wide. America got another header, this time from Giovani Dos Santos, that got easily handled by Chivas’ keeper Jose Antonio Rodriguez. Later it was Cordova who got a shot and forced Rodriguez to make an easy save. While it looked like America was getting closer, Chivas would go and stun everyone. A great combination play between Jesus Ricardo Angulo, Alexis Vega, and Macias was finished with a great shot past Ochoa for the 2-0 lead.
It looked like the game might be settled but America answered back. A cross from Dos Santos was badly tackled by Jesus Sanchez and the ball ended up falling directly to Viñas’ head, and he knocked it past Rodriguez to make it 2-1. After that the game started to get a little chippy, with Richard Sanchez getting a yellow. Chivas almost made America pay for a mistake when Ochoa lost a ball but Macias couldn’t take advantage. The halftime whistle blew and it was a very even match at halftime with Chivas leading.
The second half started with the surprise that Macias got subbed out for Angel Zaldivar. While it’s a pre season match and you can understand a player getting subbed out, Macias was Chivas’ best player and it was still very early in an even game to make such a bold move. America had the first dangerous play when a header from Viñas went wide. Chivas then had a great chance when after losing a ball, they recovered to make a good play that ended with Zaldivar taking on Ochoa. He got past him but had no angle and tried to lob the ball to the open goal but it went wide. America went close after a mistake from Rodriguez off a corner kick, but they couldn’t take advantage of it. Then off a counter, Sebastian Cordova got all the time in the world and got off a great left footed shot past Rodriguez to tie the game at 2-2. Chivas had long ago lost possession and America had made them pay.
Chivas came back with Uriel Antuna (who got his first minutes of the tournament after getting subbed in) got a shot off but it went wide. Later it was Brizuela who got a shot that Ochoa handled easily. America should have tied it after a terrible play from Chivas’ defense, especially Rodriguez who just stood there in the area, allowing Andres Ibarguen a free shot in the area but it went just wide. Then in a great counter, Uriel Antuna found a running Miguel Angel Ponce, who got a shot off with a right foot. Ochoa stopped the ball but it fell to Zaldivar who shot it past and got the 3-2 lead. It was a surprising great counter but it was Ponce’s decision to shoot with his right foot, as well as his run that was the key in the goal.
Then almost immediately after in another great play, Antuna dribbled through with the ball and had America defenders going crazy. He then laid it off to Brizuela, who surprised with a left footed shot past Ochoa for the 4-2. The shot had surprised the America defense but it was a great play from Antuna, who had a great performance coming in as a sub.
It looked like the game was over but Brizuela then lost the ball and allowed Ibarguen to get off a shot outside the area, and he scored to draw America within 4-3. The last minutes of the game turned very tense with America pressuring but Chivas trying to keep the ball to a game they complicated themselves. In the last minute, America had two chances in the area, and both times a Chivas defender blocked the shot in dramatic fashion. Then Chivas made a great counter from the last blocked shot with Antuna once again dribbling through and finding Dieter Villalpando in the area, who got a shot off but Ochoa made a great save. Chivas held on the seconds after that and it was a great end to the best match so far in the tournament.
With the win Chivas goes to the final against Cruz Azul while America finishes their participation in what was overall a dissapointment. Chivas will have their work cut out for them in the final, but at least they had a good performance and a great result against their biggest rival. There must be a lot to worry for Coach Luis Fernando Tena, who was out due to testing positive for COVID-19, especially in defense with Chivas giving up a 2-0 victory and coming close to giving up a 4-2 lead. Still, they showed some good things and they should be happy with what was shown by a couple of key signings from last season in Macias, Angulo and Antuna. Meanwhile, America will have the disapointment of losing against Chivas and although they improved dramatically from their game against Cruz Azul, they still are far from clicking especially on defense. If not by the performances from goalkeeper Ochoa, things could have been uglier than they were. Still, it’s preseason, and they have a deep squad that maybe will improve as the tournament continues. Yet it will be little solace for their fans.