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América head back home with a 3-1 first leg win over Atlético San Luis

The first half was key for America as they put three goals passed San Luis who will need to put up a tough fight on Saturday if they want a chance at the semifinals.

Atletico San Luis v America - Playoffs Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX Photo by Leopoldo Smith/Getty Images

While there is still another game to be played, Club América were able to grab the victory in the first leg against Atlético San Luis last night. Thanks to the efforts of goalkeeper Andres Sanchez, San Luis only went down by three goals and now have to fight for their lives at the Estadio Azteca.

It didn’t take long for the visitors to get the ball rolling at Estadio Alfonso Lastras as they attempted their first shot in the eighth minute that was blocked by Andres Sanchez, only to come back two minutes later and open the scoring.

América were given a corner that San Luis weren’t able to clear as Alvaro Fidalgo got to the ball which he sent over to Jonathan ‘Cabecita’ Rodriguez who surprisingly was not marked. ‘Cabecita’ did not hesitate and put the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Sanchez for the first goal of the night. A few minutes later, San Luis came close to equalizing when Leo Bonatini’s header was saved by Luis Angel Malagon who has saved America on countless occasions since winning the starting role back in week 11. Two minutes after, San Luis had another chance, probably their clearest of the night, to score after Jhon Murillo received a through ball and only had Luis Fuentes and Malagon to get passed. Unfortunately, Murillo’s shot hit the crossbar. That missed opportunity would come back to haunt them not even three minutes later when América doubled their lead.

Diego Valdes passed the ball over to Miguel Layun who then sent the ball into the box where Valdes himself was there to head the ball into the back of the net for the second goal of the night. No San Luis player kept their eye on Valdes as he made his way into the box. Thankfully, they were able to get one back four minutes later.

San Luis were awarded a corner kick that was initially cleared out by América, but the ball made its way back into the box where Bonatini was there to put it in and get one back for the home side. Just when it appeared luck was on the home team’s side and they could get back into it, América extended their lead in the 35th minute.

Leo Suarez took a shot from outside the box and Unai Bilbao went up to head it out of danger, but unfortunately he couldn’t control the ball and it instead ended up in his own net. The goal may have been recorded as belonging to Leo Suarez, but that was an own goal, an unfortunate one, but an own goal nevertheless. There were still another 10 minutes plus 45 more left to play, but it was going to be a battle to make sure it didn’t get any worse for them in the second half.

While the first half was filled with plenty of goals, the second half wasn’t, but América held on tight to keep the lead while San Luis looked to cut it. In the 72nd minute, America fans held their breath as Henry Martin was subbed off due to a head injury. The striker was able to walk off on his own accord and he will be closely observed in the coming hours and days to determine whether he will play on Saturday.

Then, in the 80th minute, things turned bad for América as San Luis were awarded a penalty. The referee was then called over to take a second look and the call was overturned since the foul occurred outside of the area, and he then gave Israel Reyes a red card for committing the foul. Reyes has been a critical player for América since his arrival. While it took him a couple of games to adjust, he adapted well and will be sorely missed in the second leg. The subsequent free kick led to nothing and San Luis spent the next 10 minutes chasing a second goal that never came.

San Luis were lucky to not lose by a wider margin as América took their foot off the gas in the second half. Now, they’ll meet this Saturday at the Estadio Azteca where a victory looks slim for the visitors. It will be a tough environment to play in, but if San Luis want to make it to the semifinals, they will have to play their best game of the season in order to knock off heavy favorite América.