16 May, 2011

Morelia Monarcas, UNAM Pumas in El Gran Final

The finals of the 2011 Torneo Clausura are set. #2 finisher UNAM Pumas will take on #3 finisher Morelia Monarcas in “El Gran Final” after a pair of ugly semifinal games ended in violence yesterday. UNAM Pumas hosted Guadalajara Chivas, who upset top finisher UNL Tigres in the first round. The first leg was a strange 1-1 draw at Guadalajara, so UNAM needed only to win at home or even tie 0-0 to advance to the finals.

The first half was close but Javier Cortes struck first for Pumas on a perfectly placed direct free kick in the 42nd minute, leaving Chivas goalkeeper Luis Michel no chance to make a save. Two minutes later, Paraguayan Dante Lopez of Pumas struck the post. The second half was a bit more in favor of Pumas. Dante Lopez scored in the 57th minute, but the referee called back the goal for a foul off the ball. Lopez nearly scored in the 64th minute as well, except for an excellent save by Luis Michel to keep the score 1-0. Finally, Lopez scored in the 75th minute in a give-and-go with teammate and fellow Paraguayan Dario Veron, started and finished by Lopez himself, to make the score 2-0.

Then things got ugly. A hard foul against Dante Lopez near the Pumas sideline ignited a bench clearing brawl. Several players were yellow carded but none were ejected until Mario de Luna of Chivas received a second yellow for another unnecessarily violent tackle in the 84th minute. According to the announcers, if I understood them correctly, suspensions against a team eliminated will be enforced at the start of next season.

That detail is especially relevant for Cruz Azul, one of the more successful Mexican teams in international competition lately. Cruz Azul defeated Morelia Monarcas 2-0 at home on Thursday in the first leg, so Morelia would need to win at home yesterday by more than 2-0 to avoid a tiebreaker. Morelia completely dominated early, with Rafael Marquez Lugo scoring two quick goals in the 9th and 12th minutes, and it looked like Morelia would advance easily.

But it wouldn’t be so easy. For the next 75 minutes, Cruz Azul played spectacular defense, blocking every shot, shutting down every rally, and not allowing the winning goal. Until Cruz Azul very nearly scored the series winner themselves in the 88th minute. Morelia’s star center back, Joel Huiqui (who officially lists his race as “Mayan”) made a series winning slide tackle in front of his own goal and started a fantastic counterattack that went end-to-end. Jaime Lozano ended up scoring the series winning goal for Morelia in the 88th minute, and Morelia won 3-0. That’s when things got really weird. A fan ran onto the field and was attacked by several Cruz Azul players, five against one. When a Morelia assistant coach attempted to stop the violence, Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jesus Corona harshly head-butted the old man. The referee didn’t see that but issued three red cards to other Cruz Azul players. Then the referee allowed the two teams to play stoppage time for two more minutes, eleven against eight. All the reports today dwell on the violence and completely ignore the spectacular play of Joel Huiqui, who is a truly great defender and represents his people well.

Video provided by FutboleroMexico

1 comment:

  1. Here's a nice video of the head-butt and a more complete video of the original attack:


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