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Cruz Azul get a last minute Clasico Joven win over struggling America

Cruz Azul added to America’s woes after their CONCACAF Champions League Final loss with a 2-1 win in Liga MX play.

Cruz Azul v America - Torneo Apertura 2021 Liga MX Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Cruz Azul got a goal in injury time to get a 2-1 win over Club America in the Clasico Joven. A double defensive mistake gave Cruz Azul a penalty kick in injury time, giving a big boost to Cruz Azul’s opportunities to repeat as Liga MX champion. Club America, who have guaranteed first place in the regular season, adds to a terrible stretch just before the Liguilla starts, having lost the CONCACAF Champions League Final against Monterrey earlier in the week and now the Clasico Joven. Cruz Azul will close out their season first with a match against Leon and then a tough match against their other city rivals in Pumas, while Club America closes out with a revenge matchup against Monterrey after Thursday’s CCL Final.

The first half started with America having made a number of changes from their match against Monterrey, including benching starters like Roger Martinez and Alvaro Fidalgo. Cruz Azul also had some surprising moves as well, like not starting Jonathan Rodriguez. Cruz Azul started out better, although they weren’t creating any chances as America was sitting back. Then after a cross into the area, the ball fell to a wide open Orbelin Pineda, who got off a right footed shot past America’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. The play looked offside to most people in the stadium, and America’s players protested the score immediately. After going to VAR, the goal was called off. Club America finally got their first opportunity on a three-on-two that ended with Sebastian Cordova taking a left footed shot that wound up going wide in a wasted opportunity. Cruz Azul had another opportunity when a pass found Juan Escobar, but he decided to pass instead of shoot and it was deflected for the corner kick. On the ensuing corner kick, Luis Romo took it quickly and caught America by surprise, finding Roberto Alvarado. Alvardo took a left footed shot from outside the area and it went past Ochoa for the 1-0 lead. It was a surprising goal, but the lead was deserved as Cruz Azul had dominated possession.

The second half with both teams coming out with the same 11s they started with. Off of a free kick, a cross into the area was headed by Santiago Gimenez, forcing Ochoa to make a good save. Then against the run of play, a great cross from Miguel Layun found Federico Viñas, who jumped to get a great header past Cruz Azul’s goalkeeper, Jesus Corona for the 1-1 tie. America subbed out Antonio Lopez for Alvaro Fidalgo as they hoped to take advantage of the momentum shift to get the victory. Cruz Azul tried to come back from the goal and got some possession and although they weren’t as dominant as in the first half, they seemed to have slowed down America’s reaction. Cruz Azul then subbed out Roberto Alvarado and Rafael Baca for Jonathan Rodriguez and Yoshimar Yotun. America then subbed out Sebastian Cordova for Bruno Valdez in what looked to be a defensive move. Layun had a great opportunity when he got off a shot that forced Corona to make a save, and yet the ball still hit the post in a great opportunity. Cruz Azul had a great play with Pol Fernandez finding Rodriguez, whose shot was blocked by Ochoa. America subbed out Nicolas Benedetti and Federico Viñas for Luis Fuentes and Henry Martin, while Cruz Azul subbed out Pol Fernandez for Walter Montoya. Cruz Azul kept looking for the winning goal, while America was more defensive as expected from some of the substitutions. Cruz Azul made their last move by subbing out Santiago Gimenez for Jose Martinez. After a terrible give away from Valdez, it allowed for a great counter for Cruz Azul in a two-on-one, and after Rodriguez found Pineda in the area he got off a shot that forced Ochoa to make a great save. Referee Luis Santander then went to VAR and gave a penalty kick after the replay showed that Emanuel Aguilera had committed a terribly strong foul. Santander also gave Aguilera a red card. Jonathan Rodriguez took the penalty, and with a strong right footed shot score the 2-1 game winner in the 96th minute. There would still be time for a scuffle between Layun and Octavio Rivero, but it was all as Cruz Azul got the Clasico Joven win over leaders America.

Club America and their fans are having the worst stretch of the season after the loss in the CCL final and now the Clasico Joven. Key injuries, especially to Pedro Aquino, have hurt the team a lot and it’s at the worst time possible as the Liguilla is just weeks away from starting. Coach Santiago Solari will have to get things going quickly and to make matter worse, having Monterrey as a final game might add more pressure to a team that should be concentrating on the Liguilla, not the regular season. Cruz Azul meanwhile improved after a couple of lackluster games, although it could still not be enough to repeat as titleholders. Although Cruz Azul was the better team in the match, the last minute goal came from a complete gift from Bruno Valdez and then Emanuel Aguilera. They will hope to improve in the standings with a tough two final games, as they remain at home for a home match against Leon before finishing their season against rivals Pumas, who also have a mid week match against Santos.