América Triumphs After Amazing Comeback

Liga MX Clausura 2013 final was brilliantly poised and did not fail to deliver
by Brendan Doherty   |   Thursday, May 30, 2013

 MEX Matters - column on Liga MX, El Tri & Mexican futbol.

If you've read this column before, you'll know that I am a fan of Mexico City's Club América. However, the Liga MX Clausura final 2nd leg, which ended 2-1 (4-2 on PKs due to aggregate) was highly entertaining for neutrals or casual fans as well.

The final was marked by notable events, any of which would have been enough to steal the headline of a lesser game by itself. There was an early red card, 2-goal lead from Cruz Azul away from home, a diving header by América's goalkeeper in the last minute of stoppage time and a thrilling penalty shootout.

Immediate reactions

I spoke with my friends from Mexico after the game concluded. One, a fan of Puebla FC, attempted to write off the result as merely a continuation Cruz Azul's curse.

La Maquina had a prime opportunity to end its 15 and a half year drought as it hadn't won a league title since the 1997 Apertura (then called Torneo Invierno). The 2-legged final against America was Cruz Azul's fifth finals appearance since that last trophy.

My other friend is a die-hard Americanista and I don't think he has stopped celebrating yet. While he acknowledged Cruz Azul's frailty, he emphasized the resilience and tenacity exhibited by the shorthanded America players. Club América hadn't won a title since Clausura 2005, something their detractors (more numerous than their supporters) frequently pointed out.

Individual performances and highlights

Pablo Barrera split opinions in his performance for Cruz Azul in the 1st leg, but did not show up for the match in the Azteca. Aside from drawing a foul from Molina alone on goal in the 14th minute, Barrera failed to capitalize on a number of balls played over the top and could not beat América's goalkeeper Moisés Muñoz in the area on multiple occasions. Christian “Chaco” Giménez was often involved in the build-up play for Cruz Azul, but failed to make a substantive impression on the match.

José de Jesús Corona was a consensus man of the match throughout most of regulation and the extra time periods. Despite being a man down for most of the match, America picked up momentum in the second half and completely bombarded Corona's goal in the 2 periods of extra time. “Chuy” Corona cannot be faulted on the two goals, his defender actually deflected one, but his luck ran out in the shootout. Corona was the clear star for Cruz Azul in the first leg, able to stop everything that Club América threw at him.

Cruz Azul appeared to be heading for the trophy after a strong defensive performance over the first 87 minutes and Colombian international Teófilo Gutiérrez's 20 minute strike.

Even though Mexico's Liga MX doesn't use the away goals rule, Cruz Azul still had a 2-goal advantage over its cross-town rivals. América pulled one back with a header from team captain Aquivaldo Mosquera. Mosquera got free from traffic in the area and nodded a ball from Christian “Hobbit” Bermúdez into the far corner.

Muñoz Rises to the occasion

With several offensive substitutions, América had already thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Cruz Azul; but soon that came too. Goalkeeper Moisés Muñoz came up the field for a corner kick in the last minute of stoppage time.

Somehow, the ball sailed in between 3 Cruz Azul players and Muñoz fired a diving header on frame that was deflected by defender Alejandro Castro into his own goal. Corona had dove to that side and may have gotten a glove to the header, as he had many times earlier in the game, but the deflection took the ball well over the keeper and into the back of the net.

América controlled the game through 2 15 minute periods of extra time. Despite having to play down a man for 76 minutes of regulation and a further 30 minutes, América's players dominated possession and won a majority of 50/50 balls in the midfield.

Manager Miguel Herrera's personality imprinted itself on the match as the Águilas poured their heart and soul into every play. Herrera's impassioned reactions during the penalty shootout showed how much the trophy meant to him and the club.

The victory on Sunday put Club América on 11 titles to match their archrivals Chivas de Guadalajara atop the Mexican first division all-time list.


Hamilton College
Club Domestic:
Rochester Rhinos, RBNY
Club Foreign:
Tottenham, Club América
Household Jeopardy champion from a small town in Upstate New York. Simultaneously brought to Tottenham Hotspur by a youth coach & given a copy of FIFA 2004. Enthusiastically pragmatic & a student of the game. Covering the Mexican National Team & Liga MX.