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Liguilla: América fall at home but nothing is lost... yet

The first leg of the Apertura 2022 is in the books as Tigres got a win at the Azteca stadium, but there’s still hope for the Águilas.

Jacqueline Ovalle celebrates her goal IMAGO 7

There were a lot of expectations for the Liga MX Femenil Apertura 2022 final. It was a repeat of the Apertura 2018 Liguilla final, where América ended up lifting its first cup.

The excitement could be felt in the air. Fans made sure both teams felt loved in the days prior to the first leg, bringing them ‘serenata’ and welcoming them to the stadium on Friday.

Even the league made sure to celebrate the game, which not only was about to be played at a stadium with a vast history, but was also going to be broadcast on national TV.

The game

América started strong by attacking Tigres and Scarlett Camberos made sure to send some good crosses into the box. Martínez had at least two good opportunities early on in the match, but couldn’t shoot on frame.

Since VAR was available for this final — as it happened with the previous Liguilla games — the referee was called to check on a potential red card for Kiana Palacios in minute 17. In the end, the player only received a yellow, but it was the beginning of a series of dubious yellow cards América players would receive during the first half.

An unfortunate incident happened some minutes after that. Scarlett Camberos and Nikki Hernández managed to get the ball to Katty Martínez who fired a shot barely off target. Bianca Sierra, who tried to prevent Camberos from making the cross, ended up injured and had to be subbed out. Hence, Natalia Villarreal came on.

The second half started with both teams trying to get control of the midfield. It was clear that whoever made a mistake there would pay for it. And that was América.

After a foul in the midfield, Kimberly Rodríguez resumed the game and passed the ball to Jocelyn Orejel who, under Tigres' pressure, gave in. Everyone except for Andrea Pereira was on the opponent's side of the field, and between her and Orejel tried to contain Jacqueline Ovalle, who stole the ball from Orejel. Both defenders tried to sideline her so she wouldn’t have the opportunity to shoot, but that was no obstacle for “La Maga” who saw goalkeeper Gonzalez three feet ahead of her line and shot the ball away from her grasp, scoring a golazo.

Karen Luna and Alison González entered the match to try to get the equalizer, but despite América’s best efforts, couldn’t find a way to score.

Coach Villacampa tried to surprise Tigres by putting Camberos on the right wing and leaving Nikki Hernández on the left. Maybe the idea was to send balls to González, Martínez, and Palacios, but that didn’t work. In the end, América lost some strength on the attack instead of gaining it.

After scoring six goals on Chivas in the semifinals, the Águilas couldn’t put anything in the back of the net, no matter how hard they tried or how great the opportunities were.


Maybe the most positive outcome the home team can take from this game is the fact Tigres scored only one goal. Despite how hard the visitors tried to create good looks, they were contained pretty well. What’s more, Mia Fishel didn’t even have a shot on goal, and that’s something worthy of praise.

América could’ve fallen to pieces after Tigres' goal, as we saw happen to them in the second leg against Chivas, but that wasn’t the case in this one. That’s growth. They showed a stronger mentality, one that will be needed if they want to turn things around at ‘El Volcán.’

Villacampa´s team will need a clear mentality if they want to get a positive result in a stadium as tough as Tigres’ is. We know how big a part fans can play and the club has already announced tickets are sold out. Their mentality will be important not only to avoid falling into despair, but to play smart. In the second half of the first leg, after being scored on, América started to make bad decisions and lose pass precision. And this wasn’t something that only happened to the players, but also to the coach as well. Villacampa put Natalia Mauléon in too late, and placing Camberos away from Hernández did no good. Palacios didn’t have the best of games and should’ve been subbed out earlier.

On the other hand, coach Carmelina Moscato remained calm as did her team, and got an important result at Azteca stadium. Despite that, both coaches studied the opponent well and canceled each other out effectively.

For the upcoming game, the Águilas will need to go all in and risk more. Again, América need not fall into desperation and will need to find the balance between urgency and calmness, because although the win at the Azteca was important for Tigres, they only scored one goal, and we’ve seen how capable América are of scoring multiple goals against tough teams when the stakes are high. And let’s remember the time América won its first cup, it was on Tigres soil.

A big game awaits us on Monday, bigger than the one we witnessed Friday. The cup will be at stake and neither team will give up in trying to take it home. The fans already broke the league’s assistance record as 52,654 people were present at the Azteca stadium. The game at Tigres stadium won’t top that since they can only welcome 42,500 fans tops, but the atmosphere will be unmatchable for sure.

The game will be broadcast once again on national TV (Canal 9) and TUDN, and will kick off at 9 PM ET.