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Pachuca to win or draw, both teams to score
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Pachuca and Club América have played out some exciting games in the recent past, and that is precisely what we got in the first leg of the semi-final too.
A goalless first half saw Club America dominate possession, but Pachuca ended with more shots on target. The same was expected in the second half as well, but an early goal from Diego Valdes for the home side saw the momentum shift. Club America were happy with the one-goal lead and decided to play with a deep block. Fernando Ortiz ordered his men to prioritize keeping hold of the lead instead of attacking more and trying to score another one.
The move was paying off, and Pachuca found it hard to break into the Club America box. They needed a lifeline from their opponents to get on the scoresheet and walk away with a point. Nicolás Ibáñez scored from the spot after Jorge Sánchez handed Pachuca a penalty in the 80th minute of the game. The game ended with the scoreline stuck at 1-1, leaving it all to play for in the second leg of the semi-final. Pachuca will be the ones going into the game with a lot of confidence as they have done well at home this season.
In the eight matches they played at home in the league, Pachuca picked up six wins and drew twice. They went unbeaten at the Estadio Miguel Hidalgo, and a repeat of that in the second leg of the semi-final will see them go through.
However, Club America are not to be taken lightly as they were in good touch during the league season. They lost just twice in their nine away matches during the league and finished it with a hat-trick of wins. The last time they defeated Pachuca at the Estadio Miguel Hidalgo was back in 2020, during the Apertura season. Federico Viñas and Sebastián Córdova scored the goals for Club America, while Colin Kazim-Richards scored a consolation in the 97th minute of the game for Pachuca.
Pachuca have been on a brilliant run and have lost just once in their last nine matches. The loss was on the final day of the league season when they experimented with the side, as they had nothing to play for anyway. Guillermo Almada’s men had sealed the top spot in the league, and the manager decided to rest a few players ahead of the knockout stage. In the quarter-final, Pachuca was up against Atletico de San Luis and managed to edge them out. The league leaders drew the first leg 2-2 at San Luis despite taking an early lead.
Nicolás Ibáñez ensured his side got a quick start in the quarterfinal by scoring in the 5th minute of the match. He has been their best player this season in front of the goal, and that was his 10th goal of the season.
Jhon Murillo got fouled in the box, and that saw San Luis get a penalty in the 25th minute, which Germán Berterame converted without any issue. Pachuca were made to struggle for a bit, but Nicolás Ibáñez popped up with his 11th goal of the season in the 77th minute to hand the table toppers the lead once again. Despite all his efforts to get the win for his side, they failed to seal the tie as Juan Manuel Sanabria scored in the 94th minute to make it 2-2.
In the second leg, it was Nicolás Ibáñez scoring the goals once again for Pachuca. After a goalless first half, Pachuca took the lead in the 47th minute but were pulled back level on terms in the 52nd minute by Ricardo Chávez. Gustavo Cabral restored Pachuca’s lead in the 69th minute before Víctor Guzmán missed a penalty for the home side in the 80th minute. San Luis made it 2-2 in the 93rd minute but still needed a goal as they were getting knocked out even if the tie ended in a draw. Nicolás Ibáñez made sure his side did not suffer a shock loss and scored in the 96th minute to seal a 5-4 win on aggregate.
In the semi final first leg, it was Nicolás Ibáñez who scored the crucial goal for Pachuca as he converted from the spot late in the game to get them a 1-1 draw.
No player is ruled out or suspended for Pachuca.
Club América did all they could to get the win against Pachuca in the first leg of the semi final and can consider themselves a little unlucky to concede a late penalty. They have done well this season, and to come from rock bottom to finish 4th was a success story in itself.
Now, they have a golden chance to make it to the final, and all they need to do is continue what they have been doing so far – defending well. Since Fernando Ortiz has taken over, Club America have been a force at the back and have stopped leaking goals. They have conceded just five goals in their last 10 matches in Liga MX Clausura – the best defensive record in the period.
In the quarter final, Club America were up against Puebla, a side that slipped badly towards the end of the season and finished outside the top 4. Ortiz’s side finished level on points with Puebla during the league season but managed to grab the 4th place because of a better goal difference.
When the two sides met in the quarter final, the first leg ended in a 1-1 draw. Fernando Aristeguieta handed Puebla the lead in the 55th minute before Sebastián Cáceres leveled things up with 10 minutes remaining in the game,
The second leg was dominated by Club America, who took a 3-1 lead in the 73rd minute. Henry Martín, Diego Valdés, and Alejandro Zendejas got on the scoresheet for the home side, while Israel Reyes had managed to get one back for the away side in the first half. Fernando Aristeguieta got on the scoresheet again for Puebla in the 97th minute, but it was too little too late as they did not have enough time to make a comeback.
Club America did well in the semi final first leg against Pachuca as well and took the lead via Diego Valdés. However, they made one mistake and handed the opponents a lifeline with a penalty in the 80th minute, which was easily converted.
No player is ruled out, and Fernando Ortiz has the whole squad available for the second leg.
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|Pachuca vs Club América Information
|Pachuca vs Club América
|Estadio Miguel Hidalgo
|Sunday, May 22 at 9.06pm EST
|How to watch
|Univision networks TUDN and UniMas,
ESPN Deportes, Telemundo and Fox
Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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