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Match recap: Club Tijuana 1, Cruz Azul 2

Xolos got an early lead but were unable to hold on to it as Cruz Azul gets goals from Santiago Giménez and Jonathan Rodríguez to grab a 2-1 win.

Tijuana v Cruz Azul - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX Photo by Carlos Heredia/Getty Images

Tijuana took an early lead on a goal from an unlikely source, but a poor second half showing by Xolos allowed Cruz Azul back into the game and then surrendered it to them, losing 2-1. Xolos have now dropped three of their last four matches and sit in 15th place while Cruz Azul has now won five of their last six.

Prior to the match starting, Tijuana disclosed that four players and three members of the coaching staff including head coach Pablo Guede had tested positive for COVID-19. Cruz Azul also revealed two players had tested positive and did not make the trip to Tijuana to play in the match.

Cruz Azul immediately started out on the front foot, racing down the field and getting a shot off before the clock had seen its first twenty seconds go by. The flow of play soon evened out, with both teams sticking rather close to midfield with possession. Tijuana made a good break in on goal in the sixth minute but Mauro Lainez’ shot went straight into the torso of Jesús Corona. A minute later Jonathan “Cabecita” Rodríguez made a run in the box and went down. While at first it looked like it might have been a penalty, replays showed referee Oscar Mejía made the right call by not making a call. This turned out to be fortunate as in the ninth minute Xolos hit the visitors on a counterattack. Mauro Lainez drove to the end line and hit a great pass back to a wide open Edgar Iván López, and López tapped it in for his first Liga MX goal.

Xolos looked like they were going to score again were it not for a fantastic save by Jesús “Chuy” Corona at point blank range. Lainez again drove down the field, this time taking a shot. Chuy stopped it and dove to get the rebound as Fabián Castillo shot the ball, but the shot went straight into the hands of the goalkeeper and stopped cold on the turf. Brayan Angulo had a shot in the 22nd minute that sailed wide of the net.

Cruz Azul looked like they didn’t know how to react to being down so early in the match. Decisions seemed to take a split second longer to make, and passes often went nowhere to no one. Good attacks often died in hesitant back passes. To their credit, Xolos looked like a team playing with house money. They made several incursions down the field with speed and while the final pass didn’t often materialize they were more than happy to try things and see what happened.

Cruz Azul looked to have a good opportunity in the 38th minute when Jonathan Rodrítuez was played in perfectly behind the defense. While he had Santiago Giménez keeping pace out to the right, Cabecita instead tried to chip the goalkeeper and it went well wide of the net for a goal kick. At the other end a couple of minutes later, Tijuana had a great break but Fabián Castillo couldn’t pull the trigger on a shot fast enough and the ball was scrambled out of danger.

At the start of the second half, it was Xolos that went down the pitch and almost scored. Mauro Lainez took a shot that hit off of the post and the rebound went to Jaime Gómez, but the resulting shot at the empty net was well high over the bar. This too had consequences as in the 47th minute Santiago Giménez got his head onto a corner kick and his touch on it was perfect, floating it into the far corner for the equalizer.

Not long after in the 51st minute, Igor Lichnovsky and Jordan Silva went up for a ball and clashed heads. Both players were down for a bit but both seemed to be none the worse for wear after getting up. In the 60th minute Cruz Azul came knocking again, this time when Santi Giménez got another opportunity at a header but it drifted wide of the net.

Xolos had a great chance in the 70th when a great ball forward sprung Luis Leal. The fresh arrival from Newell’s Old Boys took a touch and fired, but Chuy Corona was able to smother the shot. Leal had another opportunity in the 78th minute but his shot went wide either by mistake or by a touch by José Joaquín “Shaggy” Martínez. Oscar Mejía ruled in favor of the former.

Cruz Azul finally broke through in the 82nd minute when Cabecita Rodríguez was played out on the left win. He feinted to his left and as Jaime Gómez bit on it, Cabecita cut back to his right, and fired a shot past Jonathon Orozco to give the visitors a late lead.

This fired up Tijuana, but Cruz Azul did well to suffocate the energy. Xolos quickly found themselves unable to get anything remotely close to a good look at goal, and Cruz Azul played the clock perfectly.

Tijuana will host Monterrey Wednesday afternoon in the opening leg of the Copa MX Final against Monterrey and will remain at home to host FC Juárez next Friday night. Cruz Azul will remain on the road, heading to Mazatlán to take on the eponymous club at Estadio Kraken.

Club Tijuana: Jonathan Orozco; Vladimir Loroña, Miguel Barbieri, Jordan Silva, Jaime Gómez; Mauro Lainez (Jordi Cortizo, 76’), Kevin Balanta, Marcel Ruiz (Christian Rivera, 68’); Brayan Angulo (Luis Leal, 68’), Edgar López, Fabián Castillo (David Barbona, 77’)

Cruz Azul: Jesús Corona, Adrián Aldrete, Igor Lichnovsky, José Domínguez, José Joaquin Martínez; Alex Castro (Alexis Gutiérrez, 45’), Ignacio Rivero, Luis Romo, Orbelín Pineda (Rafael Baca, 86’); Jonathan Rodríguez (Josué Reyes, 88’), Santiago Giménez (Josué Domínguez, 83’)

Scoring: Club Tijuana - Edgar López (9’); Cruz Azul - Santiago Giménez (47’), Jonathan Rodríguez (83’)

Disciplinary: Club Tijuana - None; Cruz Azul - Ignacio Rivero (Yellow - 21’)