Cruz Azul secure Campeón de Campeones trophy in hard-fought win over León
Jonathan Rodríguez scored a brace against the team from Guanajuato to give the ‘Machine’ the title at Dignity Health Sports Park in California.
Club León won the 2020 Apertura tournament and Cruz Azul the 2021 Clausura campaign, so both teams had to face each other at Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles for the Campeón de Campeones trophy on Sunday night. This single elimination game is played every year before the start of the Apertura tournament that kicks off in July.
Cruz Azul came, saw and conquered
The team from the capital of Mexico reached glory in May to end their almost 24-year championship drought after defeating Santos Laguna 2-1 on aggregate in the two-legged final. So Cruz Azul kept their winning mentality before the new tournament starts next week by defeating Club León 2-1 in Los Angeles.
The first half was very even with both teams having clear chances to score the game's opener, but both goalkeepers were able to keep the other team out. When the second half started, Cruz Azul had one objective in mind and that was to score first.
The manager of the ‘Machine’, Juan Reynoso, decided to bring in Santiago Giménez and take out Brayan Angulo at the start of the second half. This substitution would benefit Cruz Azul because in the 60th minute Jonathan Rodríguez scored the game's opener to give his team the lead they were so desperately looking for.
Seven minutes later, Santiago assisted Jonathan Rodríguez, who entered the box and with a low shot to the near post scored his second one of the night. The striker from Uruguay won the golden boot last tournament and has not lost his aim during the off-season.
“We know he [Rodríguez] is our best player and he shows up when the team needs him the most. But also the team helps him to become better, so at the end it is a collective effort that has made us win two trophies in six months,” said Reynoso after the game.
Club León saw the light at the end of the tunnel when Cruz Azul midfielder Yoshimar Yotún was shown a red card in the 80th minute. The team from Guanajuato would take advantage of having one more player on the field and two minutes later Santiago Ormeño found the back of the net.
León kept pushing to find the equalizer, but Cruz Azul made a fantastic collective effort to prevent them from scoring. In stoppage time Fidel Ambríz was sent off and León’s hopes of tying the game came to an end. This is the first time in Cruz Azul’s history that they have won the Campeón de Campeones trophy and they will debut in the 2021 Apertura tournament on 26 July against Mazatlán.
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