Cruz Azul got a deserved 1-0 victory over Leon last night and with it, qualified to the Quarterfinals in Liga MX. La Máquina dominated the match from start to finish against a Leon side that failed to show up for the majority of the game. Cruz Azul wasted many opportunities but in the end got the win and will now wait for their Quarterfinals rival.
The match began with both teams coming out with their best as they faced a do or die situation. After a great pass, Uriel Antuna had a great chance for a 1 vs 1, but his shot went well wide, wasting a great chance. Later, a good cross in the area found Antuna, but his shot was saved by Leon’s goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota. After another great cross by Jose Rivero, once again Antuna would waste a great chance by failing to control the ball that would have left him wide open in front of goal. After a cross into the area, Lucas Di Yorio headed a ball that went just wide. Surprisingly, Cruz Azul would sub out Rafael Guerrero for Juan Escobar 20 minutes into the match. Off a corner kick, Gonzalo Carneiro’s header went just wide. Carneiro would get another chance after a deflection, but Cota made a great play to block his shot. After a pass in the area, Carneiro got off a left-footed shot past Cota, but the goal was correctly disallowed for offside. The first half ended and although Cruz Azul completely dominated, the match remained scoreless.
The second half started with both teams hoping to improve, especially Leon. Rodrigo Huescas got into the area and fired off a shot that went just wide. Victor Davila would also get a chance in the area, but his shot was deflected by a defender. After a great pass into the area, Cruz Azul twice took shots from close range from Carneiro and Carlos Rotondi that were either blocked by Leon’s defense or Cota. The ball would eventually get to Antuna, who got off a left footed shot that bounce off Carneiro and went past Cota and into the net. The goal was disallowed for offside and after going to VAR, the decision stood. Cruz Azul were clearly in full possession of the match.
Leon would sub out Victor Davila for Alfonso Alvarado. Antuna crossed in a ball that Cota failed to hold on to, as the ball fell into the path of Ignacio Rivero who connected the ball into the empty net for the 1-0. It would finally pay off for Antuna and Cruz Azul with help from Cota. Leon subbed out Ivan Rodriguez for Luis Montes. Cruz Azul would sub out Ignacio Rivero for Jesus Escoboza. There was a short scuffle between Jesus Dominguez and Stiven Bareiro, but nothing came of it. After a bad mistake that gifted Leon the ball, Di Yorio had a great chance, but he took too long in the area to get off a shot, and it was deflected wide. After a foul, there was another scuffle between Yairo Moreno and Antuna that got them both booked. Leon then subbed out Joel Campbell for Elias Hernandez. A cross into the area was headed by Di Yorio but went just wide. After a great run, Antuna got into the area and fired off a left-footed shot that hit the post. Cruz Azul subbed out Carlos Rotondi and Gonzalo Carneiro for Angel Romero and Michael Estrada. Then, off a León corner kick, a shot was judged as a penalty kick due to a Huescas hand ball. Referee Fernando Guerrero went to VAR and judged that the ball had bounced off Huescas’ knee before he it hit his hand and called off the PK. Then, a great counter had Estrada get to the area before his shot was saved by Cota, who then stopped an Antuna shot from close range and once again off a shot from Romero. It would be the last play as Cruz Azul held on for the deserved win and ticket to the Quarterfinals.
Although Cruz Azul didn’t have the greatest performance, they were overall the better side and the win was more than deserved. Leon failed to put up much of a fight and Cruz Azul’s goalkeeper Jesus Corona didn’t have to make a single challenged save in the entire match, unlike Leon’s keeper Rodolfo Cota, who made some incredible saves to keep the match at 1-0. Cruz Azul had numerous opportunities that players like Antuna and Carneiro wasted. They will need to improve greatly if they wish to continue further into to the playoffs. Cruz Azul will now await their rival which will be either Santos or Monterrey, depending on the result of Sunday’s match between Toluca and FC Juarez.