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Cruz Azul win Copa GNP por Mexico after last minute goal

Cruz Azul defeats Chivas by a score of 2-1 after a late penalty kick.

via @Chivas

Cruz Azul won the Copa GNP por Mexico after defeating Chivas in the final by a score of 2-1. It was a very even game throughout, but it ended in controversial fashion when the first penalty kick awarded in the tournament came against Chivas and broke the 1-1 tie. Cruz Azul finishes undefeated, and that they are champions is a nice surprise after many people expected them to have trouble because of a number of positive COVID-19 tests before the tournament. Chivas meanwhile had a great tournament in which they won their Superclasico, but will leave with a sour taste of how if finished.

The first half started with Chivas surprising many by having an alternate squad for the final. While some of the moves like with Jose Juan Macias were because of injury, others like Alexis Vega being on the bench, were surprising. Cruz Azul came close earlier, first with a shot from Elias Hernandez that forced Chivas’ keeper Jose Antonio Rodriguez to make a save before a header from Luis Romo that just went wide. Cruz Azul had control of the game although Chivas was doing a good job to make them not create much on the offense. Cruz Azul came close to scoring again when after a bad clearance, Roberto Alvarado was able to get a shot off that a defender barely cleared for a corner kick. Then Elias Hernandez had a great chance after getting the ball in the area, but his shot went wide. Cruz Azul kept on the attack and Chivas looked to sit back and wait for a counter. After an injury, Dieter Villalpando was subbed out and Alexis Vega subbed in and almost immediately made an impact when he went into the area and could have taken a shot, but took to long and the opportunity was wasted. The halftime whistle blew and Chivas was lucky to have the game still be scoreless.

The second half started with Yoshimar Yotun getting subbed in for Alvarado in Cruz Azul. Minutes into the half, Cruz Azul had a great chance in the area but Luis Romo’s shot was blocked by a Chivas defender. Then to the surprise of everybody, Cruz Azul did a terrible job defending a corner kick and the ball fell to Alexis Vega after a bad clearance. Vega took a great right footed shot past goalkeeper Jesus Corona to give Chivas the 1-0 lead. Against the run of play, Chivas had taken the lead in their first great chance of the game.

Cruz Azul went on the attack and after losing the ball in the area because of a mistake from Jesus Ricardo Angulo and Gilbero Sepulveda, Orbelin Pineda got a cross off that Hiram Mier tried to clear but it went into the net for the own goal and the 1-1. After the goal, Cruz Azul took over and started pressuring a Chivas team that looked to be reeling after the tie. During the water break, Cruz Azul subbed out injured Adrian Aldrete and Corona for Jaiber Jimenez and keeper Sebastian Jurado. Meanwhile Chivas subbed out Angulo for Isaac Brizuela. Minutes after that, Cruz Azul had a good chance when Juan Escobar got off a long range shot after another mistake from Sepulveda. Later Chivas subbed out Uriel Antuna for Javier “Chofis” Lopez and Hiram Mier for Antonio Briseño, while Cruz Azul subbed out Hernandez for Alexis Gutierrez. Later Cruz Azul came close when keeper Rodriguez misjudged a cross from Gutierrez but Briseño was there to clear the ball. Miguel Angel Ponce got injured and had to leave the game for Jesus Sanchez. Also Ronaldo Cisneros came in for an invisible Angel Zaldivar. After a great play from Brizuela, Luis Romo came close to scoring an own goal but it went inches wide. Then in extra time and after the play looked to have been over, the referee called for a penalty kick against Chivas after a foul by Sepulveda on Romo. The ref gave the first penalty kick of the tournament, and also gave a red card to Sepulveda because of it being a second yellow, although replays showed that it was very dubious. Jonathan Rodriguez took the penalty kick and scored it past Rodriguez. The game ended and after a very exiting match and tournament, it couldn’t have ended in a more lackluster way.

Though the tournament ended in a controversial way, overall it was positive for most teams, especially the two teams in the final. Cruz Azul won a title and in the process defeated their city rivals in America and Pumas. Although the team had a great start, their level did go down in the Semifinal and Final, with late goals helping them in both games (against Tigres a late header tied the game and forced into penalties).

Meanwhile Chivas defeated America in their biggest rival and gave a lot of time to their players. The injury to Jose Juan Macias and the fact that they started the final with a a couple of normal starters on the bench might leave fans with a sense of “What might have been...” but they still overall did a good job in the tournament. Chivas will now play on Saturday at home for their Liga MX debut against Leon, while Cruz Azul will stay not only in Mexico City but in Estadio Olimpico Universitario (Estadio Azteca is under refurbishment) as they open their season against Santos.