Is there a rivalry more iconic than that of Cal and Stanford? Maybe not, but the Mexican league Liga MX’s Chivas vs. America rivalry is a strong contender.
These two teams have met each other once more, this time for semifinal matches in pursuit of a Liga MX title. The tournament style requires the teams to play each other twice, and the first of these two matches kicked off Thursday.
Both teams were quick to play offensively, only relying on defense when absolutely necessary. Smart, tactical, calculated attacks were seen from both sides as each team attempted tirelessly to take on an early lead.
Cross after cross, shot after shot, this was an entertaining back-and-forth battle, albeit one with a very small finish success rate.
The America team became rather fond of taking shots from outside the box, giving fans those heart-palpitating moments that come with uncertainty in soccer. The Chivas team decided to hop on this trend too, having failed at any attacking attempt made inside the America box.
Eventually, at the 60th minute, forward Alex Zendejas was able to maneuver the ball beautifully around the Chivas defense inside the penalty box, cutting back with his right foot and taking the shot with his left. The excellent placing, in the bottom left corner of the goal, made it impossible for the Chivas goalkeeper to prevent the opponents gaining a 1-0 lead.
Despite this lead, America was hungry for more. Playing more aggressively and more tactically, its attacks did not slow down as the team took shots both from inside and outside of the box.
A notable effort from Chivas to climb up and out of this slump was made, although the team was unsuccessful, and the match ended at 1-0 in favor of America.
The second — and deciding — semifinal game match was played the following Sunday.
Despite America proving to be more dominant and dangerous during the first 10 minutes, it was Chivas who scored first, putting itself up on the scoreboard at the 19th minute.
Forward Ronaldo Cisneros was able to maneuver at very high speeds, first struggling but eventually taking the ball past the keeper — who was no longer in goal — then forcing it against a defender and eventually driving it into the goal.
An entertaining back-and-forth battle filled with unsuccessful long shots, crosses and free kicks defined the remaining minutes. Eventually, America was able to respond with its own goal at the 56th minute: A cross to Diego Valdés allowed for a header into the leftmost side of the goal, evening the score 1-1.
The America side of the stadium erupted in excitement as the overall combined score now stood at 2-1 in favor of America, which would have taken Chivas out of the tournament. But almost like something straight out of a movie, Chivas was able to completely turn the game around in the final minutes.
First, in the 69th minute, a Cisneros goal was disallowed over a foul on America’s Miguel Layún. Despite this setback, Chivas was able to put another one in at the 76th minute, giving Chivas the 2-1 match advantage.
But Chivas was not done. The team came back and scored yet another goal, this time courtesy of a header from Chiquete Orozco in the 88th minute. The final whistle blew at 99 minutes, as the score stood at 3-1 and 3-2 overall, allowing Chivas to move on to the final tournament match where they will face Tigres. The final tournament series is set to begin Thursday, May 25.