Club América had the opportunity to win all three clásicos this season and they did just that after defeating Pumas in a heavily contested match at the Estadio Azteca. Now both teams will have a short turn around as the Aguilas will face Pachuca on Tuesday night while Pumas welcome Querétaro at home.
While the Aguilas were the favorites to win, Pumas made it known early in the game that they would not go down easy. The first 10 minutes saw the visitors hold possession of the ball and whenever America attempted an attack, they were stopped in the midfield. It wasn’t until the 9th minute when América finally broke through, or at least they thought they did until VAR stepped in. Brian Rodriguez took the ball into the area where he passed it off to Kevin Alvarez, whose initial shot was blocked by Julio Gonzalez and Henry Martin was there to collect the rebound and score. Defender Pablo Monroy then complained about the goal and eventually referee Victor Caceres was called to the screen to take a closer look at it. After some time reviewing the play, Caceres reversed the original decision due to a foul committed by the scorer himself after the replay showed he kicked Monroy in the back of the head before the goal. However, this decision was surrounded by controversy because the replay also showed Monroy stepping on Martin’s foot before the goal. Somehow, referee Caceres and VAR missed this. The game went on and Pumas had their chance to take the lead as Gabriel Fernandez took a shot from outside the box with América’s defense out of position. Luckily for América, the ball went high. The teams then went into halftime nil-nil.
The second half got underway without a single change from either side. América were close to taking the lead in the 59th minute when Henry Martin beat out Pumas defenders for the ball right outside the box. Goalkeeper Gonzalez did not take any chances and came out to kick it away before Martin got to it. He managed to kick it out, but the ball fell to the feet of Leo Suarez who quickly reacted and kicked the ball towards the net before Gonzalez could get back to his goal. Luckily for Gonzalez and Pumas, the ball hit the crossbar and was cleared out of immediate danger. A few minutes later, Jonathan ‘Cabecita’ Rodriguez was subbed on for Martin, which left people scratching their heads, but Jardine realized fresh legs were needed out on the field as time was winding down to find a goal. The decision paid off in the 73rd minute when América were awarded a penalty that ‘Cabecita’ himself drew and made.
‘Cabecita’ made his way into the box which led Gonzalez to slide in an attempt to kick the ball out, but instead knocked down ‘Cabecita’. Once again, Victor Caceres was sent to the screen and he came back with his decision: a penalty. This decision was also filled with controversy seeing as it appeared ‘Cabecita’ allowed himself to fall hoping the foul would be called. Whether or not it was an actual penalty, some people say it was called to cancel out the disallowed goal in the first half and the penalty that was not called. After drawing the penalty, ‘Cabecita’ stepped up to take it and his shot was originally blocked by Gonzalez, but ‘Cabecita’ followed the ball and was there to put the rebound into the back of the net.
The next 15 minutes were spent with Pumas looking for the equalizer. They had their chances, but were not able to convert any of them and time ran out before they could find the goal. While Pumas held the majority of possession, América did what they needed to do and got the win even though it was not the most convincing one. If it wasn’t for the penalty, the game most likely would’ve ended in a scoreless draw. Now both teams must move forward as they have a fast turnaround with midweek games here once again.