Club América came out victorious in the Clásico Nacional defeating Guadalajara 0-1 in their stadium. Now they will wrap things up at the Estadio Azteca where they can book their ticket to the final and a chance at trophy number 14.
From the start, Chivas looked much better this time around, which confused América at first, considering the last time these two teams met was back in week 12 where Chivas lost a disastrous game at home by 2-4. América had the first chance of the night as Diego Valdes took a shot that went wide. Chivas had their own, and possibly their best chance of the night, as Alexis Vega went one-on-one with goalkeeper Luis Malagon who managed to save the ball from going in. That save wasn’t the only one he’d make last night as he ended up with five saves. Just a few weeks ago, Malagon was on the bench hoping for a chance and has proven he deserved to be the starting goalkeeper. If it wasn't for him, this team could be in a very different place.
¡Luis Ángel Malagón, guardian del arco! #ElClásicoDeMéxico pic.twitter.com/Dz7nLuGjns— Club América (@ClubAmerica) May 19, 2023
About 20 minutes in, the game seemed to level out for both teams as they had their chances, but still no goals. Chivas had more chances to score, but couldn’t convert any of their shots, either because of Malagon or them just not finish their chances correctly. This horrible finishing would come back to bite them in the 32nd minute when Jonathan ‘Cabecita’ Rodriguez opened the scoring, or more like he thought he did. It turned out he was offside by an inch and the goal was called back. Chivas were once again saved and would have to change things in the second half if they wanted to win.
10 minutes into the second half it seemed as if both teams had mellowed out. Chivas weren’t as aggressive as they were in the first as the pressure they put on América was just about all gone. While the visitors also mellowed out a bit, they were able to get in between the lines of the Chivas defense a lot easier than in the first half. At times, Diego Valdes found himself dancing around the Chivas players. And it was Valdes himself who provided the assist for the goal in the 60th minute.
¡¡¡G⚽⚽⚽L!!!— Liga BBVA MX (@LigaBBVAMX) May 19, 2023
¡Ley del Ex en #ElClásicoDeMéxico! Alejandro Zendejas abrió el marcador en la IDA en las #ClásicasSemisMX #LigaBBVAMX | #Clausura2023 | #NoTeLoPierdas pic.twitter.com/HLUa8YK7tb
The play leading up to that goal had the visitors take the ball through the midfield without any kind of pressure on them. This lack of pressure allowed the ball to get to the feet of Valdes who slipped it past Alexis Vega and Jesus Chiquete, reaching Zendejas who had no issue putting the ball past the goalkeeper to silence the home field crowd. Instead of this goal waking up the Chivas offense, it did the complete opposite. They allowed América to regain possession of the ball even though they shared it the majority of the night. This lack of response almost put them down by two goals when in the 75th minute, Israel Reyes got his head on the ball, but could not control its direction and it went over the crossbar. Once again, Chivas were saved and were lucky América couldn’t finish their chances or the score would have been a lot worse in front of their home crowd.
América were only able to win the game by one score, but they take that lead back with them to Mexico City. This makes things more difficult for Chivas since playing at the Estadio Azteca is a challenge and América rarely lose in their home fortress. Chivas will have to play the game of their lives and score at least two goals if they want to make the final. Veljko Paunovic has done an incredible job with the team in his first season, but he and his squad have a big task ahead of them Sunday night.