Puebla smash Chivas Guadalajara to win Copa MX, send Blanco out on high
Puebla were the worthy winners of the Copa MX on Tuesday, defeating Chivas Guadalajara 4-2 in a game that will be remembered for Mexico legend Cuauhtemoc Blanco bowing out of the game at 42 years old.
Here are three of the biggest talking points from the game:
Fitting farewell for a Mexican legend
It wasn't hoisting the Copa Libertadores or Liga MX with his beloved Club America, but "El Cuau" proudly lifted the Copa MX and capped off one of the best careers of any Mexican on a winning note.
Sure, Blanco looked out of shape and slow and his introduction in the 70th minute probably owed more to sentimental factors than what he could bring to boost Puebla, but he still managed an exquisite back-heel and set up a chance from which Alfonso Tamay should've done better.
A quick search of the internet will produce dozens of entertaining stories and anecdotes about his career. From those celebrations making fun of the opposition, to penalties with long run-ups, moments of madness and genius; he tried things that wouldn't even pass through other players' heads and made watching soccer fun.
Where Blanco fits in on Mexico's all-time list is up for debate, although he is certainly behind Hugo Sanchez and Rafa Marquez, even if he is possibly more loved in Mexico than those two.
Blanco will be missed in the sport in Mexico as he builds towards to mayoral elections in Cuernavaca, but you can bet he'll be back in the Mexican game as a head coach and that it'll be unmissable, like the majority of his playing career was.
Chepo gets decisions wrong
Almost everything has gone right for Chivas coach Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre since he took over the job last October, but on Tuesday he got it wrong.
Puebla coach Jose Guadalupe "Profe" Cruz fielded his strongest side, knowing that opportunities to lift trophies for a relegation-threatened team like Puebla don't come around frequently. Even if the club goes down, at least the fans will have had a night to remember, goes the theory.
On the Chivas side, De la Torre didn't do the same and his reserve team -- only Miguel Ponce of the usual starters began the match -- looked nervous and weak. That was highlighted when first Facundo Erpen (in the 7th) and then Luis Gabriel Rey (in the 26th) headed in goals to put Puebla in a commanding position at halftime. Puebla was sharper to the ball and kept up the intensity. In Matias Alustiza, La Franja had that little bit extra quality that turned out to be the difference, with the Argentine scoring Puebla's third and fourth goals.
The center-back pairing of Hedgardo Marin and Kristian Alvarez, with Patricio "Pato" Araujo in front shielding offered keeper Antonio Rodriguez minimal protection and Puebla took full advantage.
De la Torre didn't have to stay faithful to the Copa MX team that had led him to the final. The experience of Carlos Salcido, Jair Pereira and Omar Bravo was badly missed and Chivas fans were desperate for the trophy, even if the Copa MX is a lowly second to the Liga MX on the list of priorities.
Even at halftime with a two-goal deficit, it seemed the perfect opportunity to send on winger Marco Fabian and even center-back Carlos Salcedo to attempt the change the course of the game.
Aldo de Nigris did that almost single-handedly with his two rapid-fire goals in the 55th and 56th, but it wasn't enough, with the striker going on to put a penalty wide with the score already at 4-2. Alongside him, Erick "Cubo" Torres was anonymous, aside from his attempts to lure the referee into awarding him a penalty.
In Guadalajara, the club had erected a big screen at the city's iconic Minerva Glorieta and fans gathered in expectation of a party lasting into the night. Instead, the Chivas faithful retreated into the Guadalajara night, many no doubt wondering why De la Torre didn't play his full strength XI.
The Copa MX could've been that extra boost of confidence for Chivas ahead of Sunday's Clasico Nacional against Club America and moving towards the playoffs.
End of the line for Chivas players
This was only one game and Chivas' Copa MX side did well to get to the final, but it may well have been the last match for a few of the team's players, with a number unlikely to feature in the Liga MX between now and the end of the season.
Kristian Alvarez, Patricio "Pato" Araujo and Jesus "Chapo" Sanchez are the first names that spring to mind. All have consistently underperformed for at least the last 12 months.
Then there are the cases of Fernando Arce and David Toledo, both of whom have excellent careers in the Liga MX behind them, but haven't clicked with Chivas and may look to move on after failing to nail down starting spots.
Elsewhere, the careers of Nestor Vidrio and Jorge "Chaton" Enriquez, Omar Esparza and Antonio Gallardo are in a rut and they may all be best off out of the club.
It should be an interesting summer of transfers at Chivas.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.