Pumas and America disappointed their fans with a 0-0 tie in the first Liguilla game of the Apertura 2021. America was able to neutralize a Pumas team that came in hot but ran out of ideas in the second half. Pumas is now forced to get a win in the return leg as with the end of the away goal rule, first placed America will go through to the semifinals with another tie.
The first half coming out with the same lineup as the one used against Toluca, while America had a number of moves because of injuries like Fernando Madrigal taking the place of Pedro Aquino and Emanuel Aguilera taking Bruno Valdez’ spot. Pumas had the first chance when a cross into the area was headed by Juan Igancio Dinenno, but it went wide. Dinenno got another header after a cross but it also went wide. Club America looked very defensive knowing that Pumas needed to attack now that there was no away goal rule. America had their first chance when a good cross by Jorge Sanchez was barely cleared by Pumas’ defense. Pumas answered with a free kick that was headed by Arturo Ortiz and America’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa had to scramble to save it, getting the ball in between a bunch of America’s defenders. A shot from Efrain Velarde was then also saved by Ochoa. Then after a mistake by Pumas gave the ball to America, Federico Viñas got into the area and got off a left footed shot that was saved by Pumas’ goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera. A free kick shot from Sebastian Saucedo forced Ochoa to make a save. The rest of the half continued to be very even, as both teams looked to be worried about getting scored on.
The second half started with Pumas going on the offensive, getting a chance a minute in when Favio Alvarez got to the area but his left footed shot went wide. Pumas continued to dominate possession but didn’t look as sharp as they had been in the first half. Pumas subbed out Diogo de Oliveira for Washington Corozo. Club America then subbed out Federico Viñas for Henry Martin. Corozo had a good chance with a run that had Miguel Layun bringing him down for a yellow card. Pumas then subbed out Leonel Lopez and Sebastian Saucedo for Higor Meritao and Marco Garcia. After a crash between Corozo and Jorge Sanchez, both players fell and Sanchez had to get medical attention. America had the best opportunity in the second half when Martin got past his defender and made a great pass to Richard Sanchez, but his shot was deflected just slightly and it went just inches wide from a goal. A shot from from Erik Lira from outside the area forced Ochoa to make a good save. Pumas looked to have scored when a long ball was headed into the path of Meritao, who got a shot past Ochoa but the goal was correctly ruled to have been offside. Later a header by Dinenno was easily saved by Ochoa. America subbed out Richard Sanchez for Roger Martinez. Later they subbed out Mauro Lainez for Sebastian Cordova. America almost had a great opportunity when a cross into the area to Layun was cleared by Velarde. Then a cross into the area was badly cleared by America and left in the area, but Favio Alvarez (who once again had a terrible match) sent his right footed shot wide in the best opportunity for Pumas in the match. It was the final chance, and the match ended 0-0.
Pumas was the better team in the match, but ran into a Club America team that knew they needed to be defensive minded. America’s fans are not very pleased with the style of Coach Santiago Solari, but he knew the way they needed to play and with the tie, they now sit in the driver’s seat. Meanwhile Pumas will now have to come out swinging and will probably open themselves up for attacks on Saturday when they play in Estadio Azteca. While Pumas came in playing well, it seems Coach Andres Lillini ran out of answers, especially in the second half. Although Diogo de Oliveira hadn’t played well, taking him out of the game killed Pumas’ attacks, as his runs and physical presence had America worried while substitute Corozo was a non-entity for most of the time. America is now set up for a semifinal trip, although Pumas might get a boost and improve on the way they played there earlier in the season.