13 May, 2011

In Case You Missed It

The first legs of the Mexico Torneo Clausura semifinals were played earlier today, and the first one was a weird one. #8 Guadalajara Chivas, fresh off their convincing upset of #1 UNL Tigres by a 4-2 aggregate score, hosted #2 UNAM Pumas, who tied Torneo Apertura champions #7 Monterrey by a 3-3 aggregate score but advanced on the away goals rule, losing 3-1 in Monterrey and then winning 2-0 at home.

In the 32nd minute, referee Paul Delgadillo yellow carded Chivas goalkeeper Luis Michel for a hard but seemingly fair tackle. Chivas defender Hector Reynoso argued the decision with the nearest linesman and received a straight red card from Delgadillo. (That is Paul Delgadillo giving the “Heil FIFA” salute). Last time I checked, dissent was a yellow card, not a red card. But, in the 42nd minute, shorthanded Chivas went up 1-0 on a header goal by Mario de Luna on a corner kick. Not so fast, the referee called back the goal. Replays did not show any foul or offsides, and observers were uncertain why the goal was disallowed. Then, in an obvious “make-up” call, Pumas midfielder David Cabrera was ejected for a second yellow card just before halftime, and both teams played the second half with ten men. Pumas scored the first goal that was allowed to stand, when Efrain Velarde scored a beautiful diving header goal from a cross by Dante Lopez of Paraguay. Pumas appeared to be on their way to an unlikely road win, but then in the 90th minute Omar Arellano scored a late goal to send the Chivas fans home happy with a 1-1 draw. UNAM Pumas are the definitive favorites as they host the second leg on Sunday.

In the other semifinal opening match, #5 Cruz Azul soundly defeated #3 Morelia Monarcas 2-0 at Estadio Azul. Christian Gimenez of Argentina rocketed a powerful direct free kick past Monarcas goalkeeper Federico Vilar, also of Argentina, in the 28th minute. Then, in first half injury time, yet another Argentina player, Emanuel Villa, scored the second goal for Cruz Azul. Emanuel Villa apparently has a history of scoring against Morelia in semifinal matches, as he did the same after winning the Apertura 2009 Golden Boot, eliminating Morelia as Cruz Azul ran to the finals that season.

Morelia had the better record during the regular season but will need a big win at home on Sunday to avoid the upset. Cruz Azul narrowly defeated #4 Atlante in the first round 2-1 aggregate, while Morelia eliminated Memo Ochoa’s hair and #6 Club America 5-3 aggregate, winning both home and away.

Photo: Arbitros de Jutiapa

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