After going through a rough patch of three consecutive games at home with defeat at home (against Necaxa, Santos Laguna and Puebla), Blue Cross begins to rediscover strength playing at home by adding two wins, first against Pumas and then against Atlas, in the reactivation of the MX League during day 12, after the end of the World Cup qualifiers in March.
Cruz Azul beat Atlas by the slightest difference in the Aztec stadium, thanks to an accurate header from Santiago Giménez from minute 37, to a pass from Uriel Antuna. Both forwards were part of the Mexican team’s squad in the last World Cup qualifying round (against the United States, Honduras and El Salvador), although only Antuna received activity; even so, Giménez showed momentum in the return to Liga MX and scored the winning goal.
Thanks to this victory, The Machine displaced Atlas as fourth place in the general table, since it reached 20 points that position it only behind Pachuca (25), Tigres (23) and Puebla (22) until the end of the Saturday session, since on Sunday León could storm the fourth site if it beats Querétaro and, consequently, reaches 21 units.
The cement producers positioned themselves as the top 4 of the Liga MX for the first time after four days, since the last time they held that position, which grants direct pass to the league, was at the end of day 8, after they achieved a tie (2-2) in his visit to Tigres.
The match between the last two Liga MX champions saw three cries for a goal, but two of them were annulled by the central referee, Luis Enrique Santander. Both were Atlas headers from set pieces: one was disallowed by a handball and the other out of place and in dramatic fashion, as it was after the 90th minute.
Santander had to resort to WHERE to annul the first goal, which had been scored by Jonathan Herrera. After a review of several minutes, the whistle erased the Atlas’s momentary draw. The second annotation disallowed was more direct, since it was through the flag raised by one of the assistants to indicate the offside. Despite the euphoric claims of the red and black players, Santander remained firm in his decisions.
Blue Cross he did not have his best performance despite the victory over Atlas. He was outperformed in ball possession (34 against 66%) and in total shots (six against 12). In addition, the red and blacks had a shot at the post and another header by the left back, Aníbal Chalá, which the cement goalkeeper, Sebastián Jurado, expelled with some nervousness. Although the visitors pressed in the final minutes, La Maquina held back well with its defensive zone and defined the victory, in a game that lasted until the 98th minute to the desperation of the public.
This was Cruz Azul’s fourth victory playing at home in this tournament, adding 2-0 over Tijuana (on January 8), 1-0 over Juárez (on January 15) and 2-1 over Pumas ( on March 12). Add to that their away wins against León and Toluca, as well as draws against Monterrey and Tigres to reach the 20 points that keep them among the best five teams in the league. La Maquina came from losing 0-1 against Pachuca on matchday 11, the last match before the break for the FIFA Date.
The attendance for the duel against Atlas was 21,644 fans and the Blue Bloods bar was not allowed to enter. This figure means the fourth highest entry of the seven games that the cement team has played at home during this tournament, since the record is held on day 7 in the match against Santos Laguna with 33,924.
Cruz Azul remains in the fight for direct positions in the league in the last third of the tournament, looking to avoid playoff to which they fell in the Apertura 2021 tournament and that left them out of the quarterfinals after a defeat against Monterrey.
The next duel for La Maquina (matchday 13) will be visiting Mazatlán FC on Friday, April 8, although before that, on Tuesday 5, they will visit Pumas in Ciudad Universitaria for the first leg semifinals of the 2022 Concacaf Champions League.
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