Quiñones' early goal stands up as América maintains Clásico Joven bragging rights

'Chicharito' makes long-awaited return as Chivas manhandle Pumas; Tigres drop points
With Cruz Azul defenders in hot pursuit, América's Julián Quiñones takes the shot that would be the only goal of the match. The Liga MX champs won the Junior Classic 1-0.
With Cruz Azul defenders in hot pursuit, América's Julián Quiñones takes the shot that would be the only goal of the match. The Liga MX champs won the Junior Classic 1-0. / Agustin Cuevas/GettyImages

The Liga MX champs demonstrated that they intend to defend their crown, halting first-place Cruz Azul’s six-game win streak with a dramatic 1-0 victory at Estadio Azteca.

América scored early then saw four first-half goals annulled for offside, before withstanding a blue wave for most of the second half, winning the Clásico Joven a fourth consecutive time.

The result did not alter the standings one bit, however. 

The Cementeros remain in first place with 19 points after 9 games, ahead of Pachuca on goal differential (+7 to +5). The Aguilas improved to 18 points, behind Monterrey on goal differential (+10 to +7).

Junior Classic starts with a bang

América jumped out on top just over 3 minutes in when the Cruz Azul defense got caught pressing too high. Diego Valdés won a header in midfield, Henry Martín flicked the ball out in front of Julián Quiñones to chase down and he was off to the races. The speedy winger smoothly slotted home inside the far post.

Estadio Azteca erupted again 4 minutes later when Quiñones headed home behind the defense but he was properly called offside (although it took VAR 2 minutes to figure it out despite several views that showed Quiñones clearly offside).

The ball was in the back of the net again in minute 15 but Quiñones was caught offside once more. Cruz Azul goalie Kevin Mier made a brilliant save off an Alex Zendejas shot and the rebound landed at Quiñones’ feet but he was behind the Cementeros defense.

América had a third goal ruled out in minute 21 and a fourth goal annulled in minute 43, both off corner kicks that were recentered to a player in an offside position.

Sticking with a high line and aggressive pressing, Cruz Azul continued to play with fire. And América almost made them pay on a number of occasions.

The Aguilas patiently sat back in their own half, but as soon as they won possession, they were off to the races. 

Cruz Azul finally settled down before the break, but couldn’t get anything started on offense despite 66% possession during the opening 45 minutes.

By halftime, the Cementeros had produced just two shots, both of which were sprayed way off target. 

Their front line was notable for its absence. Angel Sepulveda failed repeatedly to create space (América’s central defense tandem of Igor Lichnovsky and Sebastián Cáceres were on song throughout the match), while winger Uriel Antuna was off his game, making terrible passes and displaying poor decision-making.

Cruz Azul boss Martín Anselmi had to feel relieved to be down just 1-0 when the teams walked to their locker rooms.

“La Máquina Azul” chased the equalizer the rest of the game, but were thwarted by ineffectiveness in the offensive third.

Alexis Gutiérrez flubbed a chance to equalize in minute 47, badly mis-hitting a perfect cross from Rodolfo Rotondi.

The Cementeros’ first shot on goal finally came in minute 58, when defender Gonzalo Pivot let fly from 25 meters. Luis Malagón calmly palmed the rocket out of harm’s way.

In minute 76, Henry Martín muffed a perfect feed from Álvaro Fidalgo, banging a header from 8 feet right into the ground. The ball bounced harmlessly over the crossbar.

The game’s final 15 minutes were spent primarily in América’s half of the field, the Cementeros looking for openings that didn’t materialize and Aguilas forwards chasing long balls on quick-strike counters.

Despite the disparity in possession – the Liga MX champs held the ball only 29% of the game – América came closer to scoring a second than Cruz Azul came to tying things up. Only one of the Cementeros’ 13 shots was on target.

Guadalajara 3, UNAM 1

After a first half that featured a fierce battle in midfield, the Chivas found their mojo. 

Cade Cowell volleyed home a nifty feed from Alan Mozo in minute 53 (the American’s first Liga MX goal), Antonio Briseño took advantage of lax marking on a corner kick to power a header into the net 15 minutes later and captain Víctor Guzmán slotted home after a sparkling bit of dribbling from Roberto Alvarado (80’).

Although the Pumas narrowed the gap to 2-1 from the penalty spot, the visitors from Mexico City rarely threatened.

The Estadio Akron crowd roared with approval in minute 88 when “Chicharito” Hernández made his Liga MX return official, 13 years after he left the Chivas for European glory. 

Javier Hernandez
Javier Hernández (right) played for Guadalajara for the first time since leaving the club for Manchester United in 2010. / Simon Barber/GettyImages

“Chicharito” had been a last-minute addition to the game roster after being cleared for duty a week ahead of time, his rehab from June knee surgery 

Tigres 1, Atlas 1

The hosts dominated large stretches of the match at “El Volcán” but were ineffective in front of goal.

André-Pierre Gignac put Tigres ahead in minute 38, but the Northern Giants did little else after that.

Atlas youngster Jeremy Márquez scored his first goal of the Clausura 2024 shortly after the restart and, after dropping 2 points at home, Tigres were left to mutter about missed opportunities.

León 1, Atlético de San Luis 0

10-man León extended Atlético de San Luis’ winless streak with a stoppage-time goal from defender Stevin Barreiro. 

The host Esmeraldas went down a man when Alan Medina was sent off for a stamp on Rodrigo Dourado but Atleti could not take advantage. The visitors controlled possession (64%) but were badly outshot by “La Fiera” (20-16) and the short-handed Esmeraldas had more shots on goal, too (7-4).

Next. Pachuca denies Necaxa big home win with late penalty kick. Pachuca denies Necaxa big home win with late-game penalty kick. dark

León climbs into 10th place with the win (now 3-1-5, with 10 points) while Atleti is stuck in 13th place after starting the season 2-0-0. Gustavo Leal’s men have gone 0-1-5 since.