Cruz Azul got a goal in injury time to give them a key victory over Chivas by a 2-1 score. The win is key because it clinches home field advantage for the repechaje match while it does the opposite to Chivas, who will now have to travel to play their repechaje meeting, with a strong possibility they face Cruz Azul again and have their third straight match in Azteca.
The match began with Pavel Perez taking the place of suspended Fernando Beltran for Chivas while Cruz Azul came out with their best 11. There seemed to be alarm when it appeared Alexis Vega had injured himself, but he remained in the match after getting medical attention. While both teams came out very intensely, they traded possession and neither created any danger. A good run by Isaac Brizuela was finished with a great cross but Angel Zaldivar did a bad job of placing himself to get the header and the defense cleared the ball. Thirty minutes in, Ramiro Funes Mori cleared the ball as he looked to have been injured, a constant situation since he arrived in Mexico. He would be subbed out surprisingly for Carlos Rotondi, a forward, meaning they planned on going offensive. A great opportunity was wasted when the ball got to the area, but Sergio Flores took too long to get his shot off, and when he did, it was deflected wide. Just prior to the end of the first half, a cross into the area fell to Uriel Antuna, who got off a great right-footed shot past Chivas’ goalkeeper Miguel Jimenez for the 1-0. There was controversy when Antuna, an ex-Chiva who felt mistreated in his time there, took off his Cruz Azul shirt and kissed it in front of a Chivas fan. Although the first half had created so few opportunities, it ended with a bang.
The second half began with Cruz Azul subbing out Angel Romero for Luis Abram. Rotondi would get to the area and fire a left-footed shot that Jimenez easily saved. A cross into the area was deflected right to Vega, who got off a good shot that went just wide. Zaldivar then got off a left-footed shot that was easily saved by Cruz Azul’s goalkeeper Jesus Corona. A left-footed shot from Rodrigo Huescas just went wide as well. Chivas subbed out Pavel Perez and Angel Zaldivar for Carlos Cisneros and Cristian Calderon. Calderon got a chance just minutes in from close range but his shot was deflected wide. Then, a pass into the area fell to Sergio Flores, who rocketed a shot past Corona for the 1-1. It was a great goal that gave Chivas the deserved tie. Cisneros then got off a shot from outside the area, but Corona easily saved it. Later, Calderon hit the post in a fantastic long distance shot. After a ball was crossed and bounced around in the area, Rotondi fired off a left-footed shot that forced Jimenez to make a good save. Chivas subbed out Alexis Vega and Isaac Brizuela for Ruben Gonzalez and Santiago Ormeño. Cruz Azul then subbed out Gonzalo Carneiro and Carlos Rodriguez for Michael Estrada and Rafael Baca. A free kick by Ignacio Rivero went just wide as Cruz Azul tried to bounce back. Chivas would sub out Jesus Sachez for Jesus Ricardo Angulo. Cruz Azul had a great chance with a 3 vs 2, but the play ended when the cross couldn’t be lowered well in the area and although both Cruz Azul attackers fell, no foul was given. Then, one minute from the final whistle, after another great cross into the area, Michael Estrada got a wide open header from close range that finally went past Jimenez for the 2-1. Gilberto Sepulveda asked for an offside while he was playing Estrada onside. It would be the key mistake as that sealed the 2-1 win for Cruz Azul.
Cruz Azul bounced back after a horrid start to the season and historic 7-0 loss against Club America. The loss ended Coach Diego Aguirre’s job and interim coach Raul Gutierrez stepped up, and Cruz Azul are now headed to the Repechaje, even guaranteeing home-field advantage for the 1-game playoff. At times, Chivas looked to be the better team, but Cruz Azul took advantage of the surprising subbing out of Alexis Vega. They’ll need to improve fast to be favored even at home, but right now are doing as good as they have in the 2022 Apertura. Meanwhile, Chivas will head to the repechaje with back to back losses in Estadio Azteca, both of which are a severe hit on the team. First, a loss against Club America in their biggest matchup, and although they were heavy underdogs and it wasn’t a surprise, it was still a loss against their most hated rival. Now, the loss to Cruz Azul wasn’t just a last minute heartbreaker, but they also lost home field advantage for the repechaje in the process. Now, Chivas will have a tough task on the road with a big possibility they’ll have this exact matchup next week with the season hanging in the balance in 90 minutes.