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Toluca stun America in taking first leg win at home; Aguilas’ unbeaten streak ends at 14

Toluca knew they were going up against a tough America side, but never gave up and defeated the visitors 2-1.

Toluca v America - Playoffs Torneo Apertura 2022 Liga MX Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Toluca were able to do what no other team have been able to since the beginning of the season, and that was to hand America a loss. The last time the Aguilas suffered a loss was back in week six, and since then they won nine straight games until drawing to Santos and then winning another four straight. The Diablos from Toluca held firm for a 2-1 win.

The game was very intense from the start. Toluca fans created an incredible atmosphere for the team and there were barely any yellow shirts in the stadium. America kicked things off in the fourth minute when Alejandro Zendejas took off down the flank and was able to get around Toluca defender Valber Huerta, but instead of passing to an open Alvaro Fidalgo, took the shot himself and was denied. Toluca had their own opportunity to score when they took the ball up the field but Emilio Lara was there to make a sweep and America were on the counter. However, it went nowhere after Diego Valdes’ shot outside of the area went high above the crossbar.

The first 20 minutes were back and forth for both teams. Whenever America had an opportunity, Toluca were there to make the stop and viceversa. That’s how it went until Richard Sanchez committed a foul on Leonardo Fernandez in the 22nd minute and Toluca were awarded a free kick. Guillermo ‘Memo’ Ochoa made the mistake of coming off his line and Haret Ortega pounced on the goalkeeper’s misjugdment, scoring the goal that put Toluca in the lead.

From there, America were chasing after the equalizer while Toluca were gaining confidence and possession. It was evident the visitors were slowly becoming frustrated, and Zendejas was probably the most upset as he wasn’t playing like his usual self and was arguing every call to the point it wasn’t a surprise had he been carded for talking back to the referee. Just when it looked like the Aguilas would score, another defensive error cost them a goal. In the 40th minute, Emilio Lara committed a foul in the penalty area when he pulled Jean Meneses down and the referee did not hesitate to point to the spot. Leonardo Fernandez stepped up and was able to send Ochoa the other way to go up 2-0 as the first half came to a close. America really needed the break so they could collect themselves after a subpar first half.

The second half started with an America corner that turned into nothing after Toluca cleared. A few minutes later, they had another opportunity when Luis Fuentes took a shot on goal that was cleared out of danger by Toluca. In the 52nd minute, Diego Valdes took his own shot towards goal but it went wide. The night then went from bad to worse for America when Sebastian Caceres was unable to control the ball and Camilo Sanvezzo took advantage, forcing Ochoa to come out to no avail, as Sanvezzo easily put the ball in the back of the net to go up 3-0. Upon further review, the goal was called back when it turned out Sanvezzo was barely offside and America were saved.

It wasn't’t until the 79th minute that the Aguilas were brought back to life when Henry Martin, who had mostly disappeared all night, made an incredible play into the box and was able to get the ball to Emilio Lara who didn’t hesitate and got a goal back for the visitors.

The final 12 minutes had America looking for the equalizer, but Toluca did not budge. Their defense was always in the right spot to stop an Aguila attack. America had one final chance as stoppage time was winding down when Alvaro Fidalgo was in the area, but Valber Huerta was there to stop the shot. If it wasn’t for him, the ball most likely would've gone in for the equalizer.

America’s visit to ‘The Infierno’ as fans call it, was nothing but a horrible performance. Defensive errors cost them both goals and the offense failed to live upto its potential as multiple players disappeared most of the match. After defeating Puebla 11-2, this game was a big slap in the face that America needed. They needed this loss to show them they’re not invincible and now everything is on the line Saturday night.