America battled back to get an away tie against Puebla in the first leg of their Quarterfinals matchup in the Liguilla. America overcame two injuries and a goal from Puebla to get a tie that has them in a prime position to get to the Semifinals, as an aggregate tie would give them the ticket because of their better record. Puebla at times looked good, but will need to improve as they need to win on Saturday or their tournament is over.
The first half started with both teams coming out with their best lineups. Puebla dominated the early minutes, pushing America into their area. Maximiliano Araujo got to volley a great cross and forced America’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to make a great save. America had a good chance when Federico Viñas got the ball in the area, but his shot was blocked by Puebla’s goalkeeper Anthony Silva. Viñas looked to have been injured in the play, especially after Emanuel Gularte crashed into him after his shot. Viñas eventually had to be subbed out because of the injury, and Henry Martin came into the match. America looked to have survived the early wave of attacks from Puebla and had evened the match. After a play, Richard Sanchez collapsed with an apparent injury, forcing America have to make their second substitution of the match before halftime. Pedro Aquino was subbed in for him. There was a great shot from Alejandro Zendejas that forced Silva to make a great save. Later Bruno Valdez had a header that hit the post, but he was ruled to have been offside. The halftime whistle blew and America had turned things around from being dominated to dominating, even with all the injuries they had.
The second half started with both teams hoping to improve in a match that started well but got bogged down. After Martin lost the ball, Juan Segovia was allowed to get a cross into the area that found Fernando Aristeguieta, and his shot was saved by Ochoa. Aristeguieta however got to the rebound and with a left footed shot was able to score the 1-0. America came close when Roger Martinez got a shot from outside the area that went just wide. America missed a great chance off a corner kick when after Silva failed to get to the cross, Jorge Sanchez had an open net but his volley went well wide. A great run from Martin got him past the Puebla defense, but his low shot was saved by Silva. America had a good counter with a two-on-one, but Diego Valdes made a bad pass right to Puebla defender Israel Reyes. Puebla subbed out Diego Aguilar for Lucas Maia. Then off of a free kick, Valdes made a great cross that Sebastian Caceres rose to get a great header past Silva for the 1-1 equalizer. Puebla then subbed out Pablo Parra for Federico Mancuello. A shot from Zendejas went just wide. Puebla subbed out Fernando Aristeguieta for Guillermo Martinez. America subbed out Alejandro Zendejas for Juan Otero. Off a free kick, Valdes got off a shot that went close but wide. Puebla came close to scoring when Mancuello got into the area, but his low left footed shot went just wide. A cross into the area was deflected and ended with a bad clash of heads between Reyes and Diego De Buen. The match ended, and America was able to celebrate getting a tie from Puebla, while the home team knew they had wasted a good opportunity and now needed to win in Mexico City on Saturday.
Puebla will feel they wasted a great opportunity this night. After taking the lead, they looked like the better team, but they allowed America to get the tie and in the end the tie was a fair result because of what both teams did. America will have to bounce back from the injuries, although Henry Martin and Pedro Aquino especially did well enough to fix those holes. Yet for a possible Semifinal series, there might be a problem for America if those players don’t come back. Puebla will have a tough task in Mexico City, and they will not be favored to go through after dropping the win at home. With America going through in the event of a tie on aggregate, they are in a prime position to go through although Puebla at times this season has shown to be a very good team. If Coach Nicolas Larcamon is prepared, he might find the solution to steal that ticket away from America.