Guadalajara makes América sweat to earn Concachampions quarterfinals spot

Chivas win Wednesday's 'Super Clásico' battle, but lose Round of 16 war to Liga MX champs

Wednesday's "Super Clásico" featured a late-game melee that should make Saturday's Matchday 12 contest must-see TV.
Wednesday's "Super Clásico" featured a late-game melee that should make Saturday's Matchday 12 contest must-see TV. / Manuel Velasquez/GettyImages

Someone forgot to tell the Chivas that the series was over. So instead of a romp in the park, América had to earn passage through to the Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinals. And they have the bruises to prove it.

Shortly after strolling onto the Estadio Azteca pitch Wednesday night, the defending Liga MX champs found themselves in a battle.

Despite a 3-2 loss, América moves on to a meeting against the New England Revolution-Alajuelense winner by virtue of its 5-3 aggregate triumph. The Rev is in Costa Rica aiming to protect a 4-0 first-leg lead.

As for Guadalajara, they did themselves proud, snatching an admittedly meaningless victory, but setting the stage for a high-intensity rematch Saturday night at Estadio Akron thanks to a late-game flare-up.

Goats make noise from the outset

Chivas fashioned five frenzied minutes in the early going that produced a crossbar, a goal and missed sitter.

Fernando González raced forward onto a nifty drop pass from Roberto Alvarado and his 28-meter rocket rattled the crossbar in minute 7.

Alvarado led another breakout a few minutes later but Isaac Brizuela’s cross attempt was smothered, the ball ricocheting back upfield where Alan Mozo ran onto it, dribbled around “Chichote” Calderón and lifted a picture-perfect cross onto the head of Cade Cowell who nodded it past Luis Malagón.

And just like that, Guadalajara had chiseled away at the 3-0 deficit.

Moments later, Cowell had another chance inside the box, but he sprayed a left-footer wide and high, wasting a tasty delivery from Brizuela.

América, rattled by the early pressure, settled down after that, Diego Valdés taking charge along with Álvaro Hidalgo and Julián Quiñones. But the Aguilas could not produce a shot on net.

The defending Liga MX champs pushed the Chivas back into their defensive third, but failed to create decent scoring chances.

And then out of nowhere in minute 32, Guadalajara made it 2-0. 

Fidalgo clipped Alvarado as he made a move about 35 meters out from goal. Alvarado took the resulting free kick, lofting a cross into the middle of a melee and somehow Ricardo Marín got his head on it, redirecting the ball into the net.

Suddenly, it was nervous time in Estadio Azteca. After all the pre-game chatter from know-it-all talking heads that Guadalajara shouldn’t even bother to show up for the match. Or that they should just go through the motions Wednesday night and focus on Saturday’s regular-season Super Clásico.

Chivas pride would have none of it and the rivals went into the locker room at halftime with just one goal – and 45 long minutes – separating Guadalajara from a heroic comeback.

And this despite the fact that it seemed like ref Mario Escobar was wearing a home jersey. By halftime, the Guatemalan official had called 10 fouls against Guadalajara and only three against the Aguilas.

Chivas Nation's dreams dashed just 5 minutes after restart when Antonio Briseño and Leonardo Sepúlveda conspired to play “Open Sesame!” Jesús Orozco and Alan Mozo scrambled back in pursuit of Valdés and Quiñones with Mozo inadvertently knocking the ball into his own net. 

Now Guadalajara would have to score two more goals.

It was not to be. Just before the hour mark, Alejandro Zendejas was the beneficiary of a savvy cross-box pass by Valdés and he banged a shot from close range into the roof of the net and it was 2-2 on the night, 5-2 on aggregate.

Mozo erased the shame of his own-goal with a seeing-eye cross right into the path of a hard-charging Alvarado who powered a header past Malagón to make it 3-2 on the night in minute 63.

Although there would be no more scoring, there were some fireworks before the game ended.

In the early stages of stoppage time, Briseño applied a well-placed knee to Valdés tailbone. As the Aguilas playmaker crumpled to the ground, his teammates took off in hot pursuit of the retreating Chivas defender.


Ref Escobar prevented the scene from escalating and the rivals finished out the game, but América won't easily forget the late-game knockdowns when the Super Clásico trilogy concludes on Saturday.