Man of the match: As tempting as it is to give this to the match official, Paul Aguilar’s 86th minute game-winner gives the América defender the honors. Jumping into attack down the right as América broke into Chivas’s final third, Aguilar’s first touch on a Raúl Jimenez’s pass into the right of the area went under two pursuing defenders and evaded a near post-leaning Hugo Hernández, nestling just inside the far post.
Packaged for takeaway:
- The match official, Marco Antonio Rodríguez, stole the show. By the time had handed out matching yellow cards to Xavier Báez and José María Cárdenas in the 49th minute, the teams seemed punch drunk. Thirty minutes of lackluster soccer followed, players seemingly unclear what would and would not draw a booking.
- By that time, Rodríguez had handed out six yellows and disallowed two goals, the second a particularly egregious decision. Héctor Reynoso had seemingly headed Chivas in front before half time, but Rodríguez waved it off, claiming there was a foul away from the ball. Replays showed Ámerica defenders trying to fight their way through two Chivas players to get to Reynoso, though Chivas’s men were doing little more than stand in place. It seemed like a makeup call.
- The call for which Rodríguez was making up? Earlier in the half, América’s Chucho Benítez had his own headed goal waved off, Rodríguez adjudicating Benítez to have climbed over the back of Kristian Álvarez. Replays showed Benítez’s hand on Álvarez’s shoulder, a position aided by Álvarez electing to play to the foul rather than challenge for the ball.
- Rodríguez is a figure of some renown in the Mexican game (he has his own Wiki page). He’s nickname Chiquidrácula because of a prominent widow’s peak creating a resemblance to Dracula. The nickname is really more of a defense mechanism. On days like this when a tight (and today, inconsistent) interpretation of the rules often makes the official the center of attention, humor is the only way you can cope.
- It’s difficult to say the final result was unfair. Even though the Drácula-induced fog gave the impression of a match destined to end 0-0, América had been the slightly more progressive side throughout. Perhaps the 0-0 would have been more just, but if one team was going to grab a goal, it was going to be América.
- Suffice to say this isn’t the type of story you want from the biggest game in Mexican fútbol, but it could have been worse. Aguilar could have missed.
- For Chivas, though, the result deals a serious blow to their hopes of Liguilla qualification. Last tournament’s top finishers in the qualification stage sit five points out of eighth with only three games left to play. With Cruz Azul, Toluca and Puebla also standing in their way, their playoff hopes are closer to none than slim.
- For América, the win moves them fifth, two back of fourth-place Morelia.