America and Cruz Azul deliver a Clasico Joven fans won't soon forget
MEXICO CITY -- Here are three takeaways from Estadio Azteca following a thrilling Clasico Joven that ended up in a 3-3 draw that included an injury-time equaliser and the sending off of Cruz Azul manager Tomas Boy for celebrating in front of the Club America bench.
1. Las Aguilas able to find solutions
Club America stepped onto Estadio Azteca's pitch a bit dazed, while Cruz Azul entered the game with the firm conviction of making the evening a memorable one. However, Cruz Azul's emphatic start slowly receded after Jorge Benitez's early goal, as America's attacking surges were derived more out of desperation, than organization.
Moises Munoz had to be substituted in the 13th minute after Cruz Azul forward Joffre Guerron poked his right eye, and forward Dario "Pipa" Benedetto, who has zero goals for America in the current season, had to leave the pitch after suffering a muscular injury when he took off on a sprint. America had to deal with those unexpected injuries, yet when half-time came around, America led 2-1.
America's goals came after a questionable penalty call and a Cruz Azul defensive blunder during a set-piece that allowed Pablo Aguilar to score his second goal of the season. As America started to dictate the pace of the game, Cruz Azul seemed to lack ideas of how to get back into the game. Players such as Oribe Peralta, Andres Andrade, Darwin Quintero, Osvaldo Martinez and Rubens Sambueza started to become more inventive in the attack, which allowed Las Aguilas to add to its 2-1 lead.
The goal that gave America a 3-1 lead was a masterpiece created by Martinez, Quintero and Peralta, a goal that only required three touches. When it appeared like America was going to pick up its second home win of the season, Cruz Azul came back into the game and left Estadio Azteca with a 3-3 draw. The fact that Peralta and Quintero were given red cards helped Cruz Azul win a valuable away point.
America showed glimpses of looking as though it had everything straightened out despite only taking a point. But when you realize that head coach Ignacio "Nacho" Ambriz had to deal with unexpected injuries and a pair of red cards, the 3-3 result is actually a positive for Las Aguilas, who now will head to Seattle, Washington, to play the Seattle Sounders in the CONCACAF Champions League.
2. Oribe Peralta a goalscoring machine
America will head to Monterrey next week to play against the current Liga MX champion, Tigres, without its most in-form forward, Oribe Peralta. Peralta got shown a red-card on Saturday night after he elbowed defender Francisco Javier "Maza" Rodriguez. The red-card was a questionable decision as was the penalty given to America early on in the match.
Peralta has four goals in the current season. In the last weeks, he has been America's key forward, while Quintero and Benedetto have provided really little. Right now, Peralta's goals still help America win points, but the opponents will get tougher, therefore other players will have to step up. Without a doubt in Monterrey against Tigres, another forward will have to step up if Los Azulcremas want to pick up points at Andre-Pierre Gignac's place.
3. Clasico Joven delivers on Saturday night
Referee Jose Alfredo Penaloza stole some spotlight from a match that had almost everything a football match could have: injuries, red cards, goals that will be hard to forget and a crowd that didn't stop singing during the match. It was a Clasico Joven that had everything it should have. The Mexico City rivalry between America and Cruz Azul woke up on Saturday night, and as long as Tomas Boy continues coaching La Maquina, every America-Cruz Azul game will be fiery.
Nayib Moran covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @nayibmoran.