Pachuca got a solid start in their series against Club America with a 3-1 win. Pachuca were the better side and took advantage of terrible decisions including a red card foul to be in the driver’s seat for the return leg on Sunday. America will now need to get a two goal victory and possibly even three and will need to do so without Pedro Aquino against a Pachuca side that is playing the best they have all season.
The first half started with Pachuca coming out with their normal starting lineup, while America had Henry Martin up top and Roger Martinez was benched. It was an even game, but America was slightly better at the start. Pachuca had the closest opportunity of the match at that point when off of a free kick into the area, Oscar Murillo rose to get a header that hit the post, in a play very similar to the one he scored against Chivas. America almost respond immediately with a three-on-two that was wasted by Leo Suarez, sending his shot straight to the hands of Oscar Ustari. Then off of a corner kick, America did poorly on defense and allowed Erick Aguirre to get a free header. Aguirre placed it past America’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to give Pachuca the lead. Replays showed that Guillermo Cabral went from the ball inches away from Ochoa but replays weren’t clear if he was offside at first. Replays then showed that Leo Suarez had been walking back to defend, and thus there was no offside. Pachuca came close to scoring again when Antonio Figueroa found a wide open Felipe Pardo in the area, but he whiffed on his shot. Pachuca almost had another opportunity when Kevin Alvarez got the ball in the area but Ochoa was able to get a ball off his feet. America tried to respond but because of it, they were getting countered by Pachuca, who looked a lot more dangerous with those attacks. Then in injury time, Leo Suarez made up for previous mistakes by making a great play and getting off a thunderous left footed shot from outside the area that went past Ustari to draw the sides level at 1-1. It was a great goal that not only gave them the tie but was a momentum hit just prior to halftime.
The second half started with America subbing out Henry Martin for Roger Martinez. Jorge Sanchez had a great opportunity when he got with the ball in the area, but he skied his shot. Pachuca subbed out Antonio Figueroa and Ismael Sosa for Romario Ibarra and Jorge Hernandez. Pachuca then had a great opportunity off a free kick when a cross into the area had two Pachuca players miss a wide open header. Pachuca was looking more dangerous once again, and they would make it count when a ball into the area got to Roberto de la Rosa. de la Rosa backheeled the ball to a wide open Felipe Pardo, who got a right footed shot past Ochoa for the 2-1 lead. America tried to respond by subbing out Leo Suarez for Federico Viñas. Pachuca then subbed out Oscar Murillo and Roberto de la Rosa for Miguel Herrera and Victor Guzman. Minutes later there were problems with the lights in the stadium that forced the game to stop. When play restarted, Pachuca had a close opportunity when Pardo got the ball in the area but his shot was blocked by Emanuel Aguilera. Then in a incredible play, Pedro Aquino had a harsh foul against Hernandez that the ref judged to have been a red card foul and left America with ten players. Aquino is a key player to America, which means that it was not only an important play for this match but the return leg as well. America tried to respond by subbing in Santiago Naveda for Alvaro Fidalgo, looking to maybe stop Pachuca from scoring another goal. America almost got a goal off a free kick when Viñas got a header that forced Ustari to make a great save. Pachuca subbed out Felipe Pardo for Mauro Quiroga. Because of the problems with the lights, the referee had to give ten minutes of injury time. Pachuca made a great combination play that ended with Luis Chavez having a terrific shot from outside the area that went past Ochoa for the 3-1 lead. In the next play Guzman made a great pass in the area that ended with a shot that forced Ochoa to make a great stop to save America from conceding another goal. America subbed out Mauro Lainez for Alan Medina in their final substitution. America couldn’t create any danger however and Pachuca were the deserved winners.
Pachuca has definitely chosen the right time to play their best. After closing the season with a solid 5-1 away win against Atletico San Luis, they eliminated Chivas with a 4-1 score and now have a lead of 3-1 going into the second leg. Club America has shown a decrease in their level of play, but more importantly is the decisions like having Pedro Aquino suspended for their return match when he has been one of the key to this team’s success. Coach Santiago Solari will have a tough hurdle to get by on Sunday, as they will probably be exposed to counter attacks in their need to score, something that already America suffered with tonight. It would be interesting to see on Sunday but it might be that Pachuca might have switched the momentum in the series.