Pumas got a struck first with a 2-1 win over Cruz Azul in the first leg of the Semifinal series in the CONCACAF Champions League. Pumas got a deserved win, but Cruz Azul might have gotten a key away goal in the second half to leave the series up in the air. Pumas and Cruz Azul will both have their Liga MX matches on Friday before they face each other a week from now in the second leg in Estadio Azteca.
The first half started with both teams coming out with their best starting lineup, the CONCACAF final being that important for both of them. The first big opportunity came when Cruz Azul made a cross into the area and the ball was just cleared off the head of Santiago Gimenez by Arturo Ortiz before he got a close range header. Pumas answered when a cross by Washington Corozo got past Cruz Azul’s goalkeeper Sebastian Jurado, but the ball went by the goal line but nobody was there for the tap in goal. After a pass in the area, Uriel Antuna got a shot that scored it past Pumas’ goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera but he was clearly offside and the goal was correctly called back. After a clash in the area between Jurado and Cruz Azul defender Juan Escobar, the ball was left for Juan Ignacio Dinenno, whose cross was deflected into the path of Favio Alvarez. Alvarez got a left footed shot, but the ball was cleared off the line by Luis Abram in an incredible save. Another good opportunity came when Dinenno got off a shot from outside the area that just barely went wide. Cruz Azul subbed out Juan Escobar, who was injured in that clash with Jurado, for Julio Cesar Dominguez. In another incredibly convoluted play, a cross by Alan Mozo was headed by Dinenno to Corozo. Corozo hit the cross back and after Dinenno bounced the ball off a Cruz Azul defender and Sebastian Jurado, it still didn’t go in. Abram tried to clear the ball and bounced it off Juan Ignacio Dinenno’s leg and the ball went in for the 1-0 lead. Abram cleared the ball again, but it had already crossed the line and it also bounced off the body of Dinenno again and clearly went in. It was a crazy goal, but Dinenno was in the right place as Abram really had it almost impossible to clear the ball without it being blocked by Dinenno. After another cross by Mozo, Dinenno rose alone after a Cruz Azul defender fell in the area and got the wide open header past Jurado for the 2-0 lead. Pablo Aguilar had slipped and given Dinenno the incredible chance that would have been too tough to miss. Dinenno then got off a left footed shot that went just wide, as he was on fire in the last minutes.
The second half came with Cruz Azul subbing out Rafael Baca for Angel Romero. There was controversy when Cruz Azul had a shot blocked by a potential handball, but replays showed it had hit the body of the Pumas defender, being blocked by his body and not his hand. Pumas subbed out Jose Rogerio for Diogo de Oliveria. Pumas had a good chance when Dinenno volleyed wide a ball. Pumas subbed out Washington Corozo and Leonel Lopez for Alek Alvarez and Ricardo Galindo. Pumas looked to have a chance when Dinenno lowered the ball and got off a right footed shot, but it hit the post and the ref ruled that he had handled the ball when he lowered it. Cruz Azul then subbed out Adrian Aldrete, Uriel Antuna, and Santiago Gimenez for Alejandro Mayorga. Christian Tabo, and Ivan Morales. A great cross into the area should have been a good chance for Cruz Azul, but Ignacio Rivero made a terrible header that went wide. Then after Ivan Morales got past Mozo, who once again made a terrible defensive display, he got into the area and found Christian Tabo, who got a left footed shot past Talavera to make it 2-1. Pumas then subbed out Favio Alvarez for Omar Islas. Later a cross into the area was found by Morales, but his shot went just barely wide. Cruz Azul came close to tying, but Pumas held on for the win in the first leg.
Pumas had a great start but might leave disappointed in giving up the late away goal and almost getting tied in the end. Cruz Azul did better with their substitutions and a bad defensive mistake by Mozo gave them life. Pumas will now most likely need to score in the return leg next Tuesday, although having a lead is a big boost. Cruz Azul had a terrible first half, but might take solace in that they finished off as the stronger team in a tough situation at Pumas’ home stadium. Still, they will have to be very careful as they only have the away goal and they looked at times weak in defense, which they might suffer with at home and with the away goals being so important. Both teams will have away games in Liga MX on Friday, with Pumas having the short trip to Puebla while Cruz Azul has the longer trip to Mazatlan before facing each other on Tuesday in the rematch in Estadio Azteca, just minutes away from tonight’s stadium.