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Club América punch their ticket to the semifinals with win over León

La Fiera were able to hold on during the first half, but lost gas in the second half where the Águilas put two goals away to get the win.

FBL-MEX-AMERICA-LEON Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP via Getty Images

Club América struggled in the first half, but were able to pull it together in the second as they scored two goals to secure their spot in the semifinals. León put up a good fight for a game and a half, but the Águilas were ultimately too much to handle for the Fiera whose season comes to an end.

The Águilas started the game strong as Henry Martin had the first opportunity in the first minute, but Rodolfo Cota was quick to collect the ball before Martin got to it. It took León a few minutes before they were able to get their first shot on goal that Luis Angel Malagon was able to clear easily. A minute later, Julian Quiñones sent a ball into the box meant for Kevin Alvarez, but Cota once again collected the ball without difficulty. A few minutes later, Quiñones once again went into the box, but instead of going for the shot, he flicked the ball to Alvaro Fidalgo who took the shot, but Cota was there to punch it out and Martin could not reach the rebound quick enough.

León didn’t get another opportunity on goal until the 22nd minute, but Alvarez was there to head the ball out. A few minutes later, ex-Aguila Federico Viñas took a shot at goal, but it hit the post which would’ve been an incredible revenge goal. A minute later, Fidel Ambriz had a chance at goal, but his shot went just above the crossbar. 30 minutes into the game and while América had created more chances, León were more dangerous with their chances. Viñas once again had a chance to score but was unable to control the ball as Malagon got to it first. The rest of the half went by without a goal as neither team were able to get their shots into the back of the net.

The second half started just like the first as the Aguilas had the first chance at goal when Quiñones got a cross off to Martin, but the forward was unable to get the shot on frame. A few minutes later, Diego Valdés made his way into the box, but as he tried to get the ball off to an unmarked Quiñones, a León player was able to intercept the ball and get it out of danger. In the 56th minute when the controversy started, Jose Ivan Rodriguez had the ball when Alejandro Zendejas came out behind him to take the ball from him. Rodriguez went to the ground but a whistle was never blown and the ball eventually made its way to Martin who was then taken down in the box. The whistle was blown, signalling a penalty for the home side. VAR checked for a possible foul before the penalty call, but it was decided there was no foul from Zendejas, but there was from Adonis Frias who got behind Martin and pushed him to the ground. Quiñones then stepped up to take the PK to give the homeside the advantage.

Quiñones took the penalty panenka style and Cota could do nothing to stop it. The goal put the Águilas with one foot in the door of the semis and all they had to do was hold on tight as the visitors were looking tired. León had to play two extra games to even get to the liguilla, so it was no surprise they were running out of gas in the second half. The next 20 minutes were spent with América attacking nonstop. Even though they had the advantage, they continued to go for another goal and the Fiera were stuck in their defensive half trying to move forward, but it didn’t look like there was a way and time was quickly running out. The Aguilas then put the final nail in the coffin in the 89th minute.

Richard Sanchez stepped up to take a corner in the final minute of regular time. Instead of taking a short corner like most teams would as they were up a goal, Sanchez sent the ball into the box where Jonathan ‘Cabecita’ Rodriguez hit the ball with his head and the rebound fell to the feet of Martin whose only job was to tap the ball in. He did just that, ending the Fiera’s hopes of a comeback. Seven minutes of stoppage time were added on, but unless a miracle happened, it was all but over. León put up a good fight, but it was not enough and now they’ll focus on their participation in the Club World Cup while América will face Atlético San Luis, André Jardine’s former team.