Pachuca and Cruz Azul battled out to a scoreless tie in the first leg of the semifinals in the Liguilla. Both teams came from very entertaining performances in the Quarterinal stage and thus disappointed fans with a game that was very even but also very cautious and with few chances for both sides. The teams will face each other on Saturday with Pachuca having to score and although they have the advantage of not conceding an away goal, they know another scoreless tie will have them eliminated.
The first half started with Cruz Azul once again benching Orbelin Pineda, this time for Octavio Rivero. Pachuca came out with the same lineup as their last match, except with Luis Chavez taking the spot of Jorge Hernandez. After a couple of even minutes, Pachuca came close to scoring when Roberto de la Rosa got a ball and from outside the area got a long range shot that just went inches wide. Pachuca had more possession, but Cruz Azul was getting the ball and getting into the area constantly. Neither team however was able to create any chances. Pachuca had the game’s first great opportunity when a De La Rosa shot from the area got blocked into the path of Erick Sanchez, who got a shot from outside the area that forced Cruz Azul’s keeper Jesus Corona to make save. The ball fell to Ismael Sosa, who got a close range shot that Corona saved, although that play was ruled to be offside. The halftime whistle blew and the score remained at 0-0.
The second half started with both teams trying to get to score. Cruz Azul had a great counter attack but Jonathan Rodriguez fell as he was getting his shot and it went wide. Pachuca came close when after a scramble off a corner kick, the ball fell to Luis Chavez, whose left footed shot was saved by Corona. Cruz Azul made the first move by subbing out Roberto Alvarado and Pol Fernandez for Orbelin Pineda and Brayan Angulo. Pachuca subbed out Roberto de la Rosa and Romario Ibarra for Mauro Quiroga and Antonio Figueroa. Later Pachuca subbed out Felipe Pardo and Luis Chavez for Victor Guzman and Jorge Hernandez. Cruz Azul wasted another counter attack where Rodriguez got into the area and got off a shot that wide instead of crossing the ball into the area. Cruz Azul then subbed out Luis Romo for Juan Escobar. Pachua had the best chance of the match when off a corner kick, Pachuca got a header that fell into the path of Quiroga, who was inches from the line but whiffed on the shot and instead sent the ball wide. It was a terrible miss from a player that has had a more than disappointing season. Minutes later Quiroga rose to get a header also from close range, but also going out wide. Cruz Azul then made their final substitutions by subbing out Yoshimar Yotun and Jonathan Rodriguez for Walter Montoya and Santiago Gimenez. Cruz Azul came close to scoring after a cross into the area got deflected by a Pachuca defender and forced Pachuca’s goalkeeper Oscar Ustari to make a great save for a corner kick. Pachuca made their final substitution by subbing out Kevin Alvarez for Matias Catalan. In the final minutes, a ball fell in the area for Santiago Gimenez but his shot went wide. A minute later, Gimenez got the ball into the area and the ball was cleared by Oscar Murillo into the path of Pineda, who got a shot and forced Ustari to make a great save. It turned out to be the last chance, and the score finished 0-0.
It was a very hard fought even match, but overall it left people wanting more. Pachuca tried to take advantage at home but they were overly cautious in knowing that getting an away goal could seriously hamper their chances. They had the best opportunities but Mauro Quiroga, who is easily is the bust signing of the season for Pachuca, continued his terrible spell on the team with two bad misses. Cruz Azul ended the game going all over the area and had some opportunities but overall they could have done better. Fans might start to worry that Jonathan Rodriguez once again gave a performance below his level during the regular season and Cruz Azul looked to be most dangerous the few minutes that Sanitago Gimenez played. They look poised to get their ticket to the final but must be careful that they didn’t get an away goal, and if Pachuca has another performance in Estadio Azteca as they did last Sunday, they might be in real trouble.