Blue Cross is back in the Liga MX league. After the disappointment suffered in the Apertura 2021 when he was eliminated during the playoff phase at the Azteca stadium at the hands of Rayados de Monterrey, in the Clausura 2022 the story was different as he consecrated himself with a victory on penalties against Necaxa, although the protagonist history was the young cement goalkeeper, Sebastián Jurado.
After overcoming a first half with a lack of arrivals, which rounded off in a 0-0, Cruz Azul jumped onto the field of his home with a different attitude to face the final 45 minutes and consecrated it from 55′, when Juan Escobar scored the 1-0 with which they put themselves above Necaxa and also breaking a drought of 378 minutes without scoring in the Colossus of Santa Ursula.
The goal revived the players and the coaching staff, since the construction of the play was a credit to the tactical approach of the cement coach, Juan Reynoso. After lining up with a line of five defenders, two midfielders and three forwards, Escobar’s goal had an effect as he was a right back that closed to an individual play by Christian Tabó, left winger.
Rafael Baca jumped up and punched the air, while Christian Rivero ran to hug Escobar. It was not a feeling to minimize, because thanks to this goal Cruz Azul broke its drought at Azteca, which included two games at home against Chivas and Atlético de San Luis, as well as one as a visitor against América.
The goal gave Cruz Azul a confidence boost. Barely two minutes after Juan Escobar shook the nets, a shot hit the post by Chilean striker Iván Morales, while at 77′ there was a collective play between Ángel Romero, Uriel Antuna and Santiago Giménez that almost defined the latter, although in the end the ball went over the side.
These attacks gave Machine security and confidence that was evident in his ball touches, but in the last 10 minutes Necaxa adjusted the gears and pushed through set pieces and also with the constant drop-offs of his young wingers (who came on as replacements): Heriberto Jurado and Arturo Palma, 17 and 20 years old, respectively.
Without being overbearing, the Necaxa He found a door to equalize through fixed tactics, especially in corner kicks, since from the 80th minute onwards he had at least three free shots on Sebastián Jurado’s goal in this type of play. Such was the necaxis’ insistence and cement noncompliance that at 88′ the tie would fall in a corner finished off by Rodrigo Aguirre.
The arbitration body suspended the draw of the Rays, because in the first instance, the central judge, Fernando Guerrero, signaled a foul against the Cruz Azul defender, Juan Escobar. But after a quick review of the WAS, changed his decision and decreed the goal for the visit. It was the 90th minute when Cruz Azul had been tied, the whistles and the pressure began to weigh on the blue shirts.
With no time for more, the series ended 1-1 in 97 minutes and forced penalties, remembering that in the playoff phase there is no room for overtime. Before this series that has been cataloged as a combination of luck, nerves and effectiveness, two goalkeepers who star in the generational change of position in Mexican soccer stood out: Sebastián Jurado for Cruz Azul and Luis Malagón for Necaxa, both with past together in the Olympic Mexican team.
The toss-up decreed that Necaxa be the first to shoot from 11 steps. This first shot would become the definitive line of the series, as it was a miss on the part of Fabricio Formiliano which was well saved by Sebastián Jurado. The public exploded in emotion with his goalkeeper.
The series of penalties ended 3-1 in favor of La Maquina thanks to the three hits by Ángel Romero, Adrián Aldrete and Luis Abram, while Agustín Oliveros and Arturo Palma missed for Necaxa, adding to Formiliano’s initial mistake. Only Ángel Araos gave them life, but it ended up being insufficient with Palma’s mistake in the fourth penalty.
The crudeness of the grandstand, the one that usually punishes failures without any scruple, now surrendered to the effectiveness of Sebastián Jurado, who saved two of Necaxa’s four penalties and a couple more shots during regular time that punctually collaborated in the Cruz Azul’s return to a league after a year (their last time was in the Guardianes 2021, when they were champions).
Jurado came out to applause and a special cheer with his name from the cement fans, consolidating his performance in this tournament, in which he has participated in nine games in total, the largest amount of his career since he disappeared along with the franchise of Veracruz in the Opening 2019.
With Jurado’s brilliant performance as his main letter of introduction, Cruz Azul will once again play a quarterfinal within Liga MX, although he still does not know his rival, since he will have to wait for Sunday’s series to be resolved to find out if It will be Pachuca, Tigres, Atlas or America. The truth is that La Maquina had two learnings in the playoff: that he can entrust the goal to the replacement of Jesús Corona and that he has the certainty to score again at home.
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