After a difficult start to the game and a forgettable first half, America made changes in the second half that paid off. They went from being down early in the game to taking back control and defeating Necaxa 1-2 on the road. With this win, America have made team history with nine consecutive wins and remain atop the table due to goal differential. Necaxa, on the other hand, now await the results of the remaining games this weekend to see if they still have a playoff spot or not.
With a playoff spot already secured, Fernando ‘Tano’ Ortiz decided to rest some of his players. He had already left Guillermo ‘Memo’ Ochoa and Diego Valdes at home, so it wasn’t surprising the starting lineup had some changes. Tano started Oscar Jimenez, Miguel Layun, Salvador Reyes, Jonathan dos Santos, Brian Rodriguez, and Federico Viñas who usually start on the bench. Some of those changes were evident in the first half.
It only took Necaxa eight minutes to score. From there, America chased the equalizer and looked poorly overall. Reyes was struggling in the back, Layun was having trouble in the midfield and Viñas couldn’t score with the opportunities he was given. The Aguilas did have some bright moments like in the 26th minute when Brian Rodriguez had his shot blocked, and two minutes later Jonathan Rodriguez had an opportunity in the box that was also blocked. Now, there’s no taking away all the hard work Necaxa did. While they did not hold the majority of the possession, they were able to make America frustrated when the defense shot them down. America needed the half-time break to regroup and make some necessary changes.
The second half started with one change for the visitors when Alvaro Fidalgo came in for Viñas. Right away, a difference could be seen with Fidalgo on the field. After that, it only took 12 minutes for America to equalize when Fidalgo sent in a great pass to dos Santos, who did not hesitate and put the ball past goalkeeper Luis Malagon. Dos Santos had his night cut short some minutes later for Roger Martinez, but he went to the bench with a goal and a great performance. Dos Santos scored his first goal for the club and it meant a lot to him, even bringing him to tears.
A few minutes later, Jonathan Rodriguez scored but after consulting VAR, the referee annulled the goal due to a hand ball. The ball hit Jonathan’s left arm before it went in. A goal finally came in the 74th minute, when Brian Rodriguez sent a ball into the box and Roger Martinez got his head on it to send it to the back of the net, putting America in the lead. While Necaxa were desperate for a goal, they couldn’t find one and were defeated at home.
This loss could have big implications for Necaxa. While they currently sit in ninth place, there are still more games to be played before the week ends. Mazatlan, San Luis, and Tijuana have yet to play and if all three of them win, then that pushes Necaxa to 12th place. While it’s great they still have a playoff spot, it makes their remaining games harder because dropping any points can mean losing their spot. Especially since their next two games are against Tijuana and Mazatlan, the two teams who are also fighting for one.
While Necaxa move onto Tijuana, America will face Santos Laguna at home for a makeup game that was originally scheduled for week five. The week after that, America will face Guadalajara at home for the Clasico Nacional.