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Cruz Azul CZA
1
Carlos Antuna 11',Michael Estrada 46'
América AME
3
Alejandro Zendejas 41', 46',Henry Martin 62'
Finished

LIGA MX

Club América punish Cruz Azul to continue fine Clausura 2023 form in Liga MX

Alejandro Zendejas scored twice and Henry Martín once as Las Águilas capitalised on a red card for La Máquina’s Michael Estrada before half-time.

Ciudad de MéxicoUpdate:
Alejandro Zendejas scored twice and Henry Martín once as Las Águilas capitalised on a red card for La Máquina’s Michael Estrada before half-time.
Alejandro Zendejas scored twice and Henry Martín once as Las Águilas capitalised on a red card for La Máquina’s Michael Estrada before half-time.Juan Luis DiazMEXSPORT

With memories of that infamous 7-0 mauling the last time the clubs met in Liga MX still lingering, Cruz Azul ‘hosted’ a Club América side who look to be going from strength to strength on Saturday. Las Águilas have been in excellent form in recent weeks and continued that trend, running out 3-1 winners after taking full advantage of their opponents’ errors and misfortune, with Michael Estrada’s sending-off just before half-time a key point in the contest.

Zendejas helps América recover after poor start

It didn’t start well for Fernando Ortiz’s side, however, as a poor touch inside his own box from Álvaro Fidalgo allowed Uriel Antuna to shoot low past Luis Malagón to open the scoring.

América reacted well to falling behind, however, and gradually began to take control, although things weren’t quite clicking for them in the final third. A couple of headers from attacker Diego Valdés flew wide of the target but they eventually levelled things up minutes bore the break. A fine team move ended up with Henry Martín slipping the ball through for Alejandro Zendejas, who did the rest with a powerful left-footed strike.

Estrada red card for Cruz Azul key

Then came the moment which had a huge bearing on the outcome of the contest. With half-time imminent, La Máquina’s Ecuadorian forward Michael Estrada caught the back of Águilas midfielder Álvaro Fidalgo’s heel with his studs as they tussled for possession in the middle of the park. Referee Fernando Guerrero initially gave only a foul but then added a red card on top of that after VAR intervened.

And it took no more than a couple of minutes for América’s numerical advantage to tell in the second period. Martín was again the provider and Zendejas once more the finisher after Erik Lira had given the ball away carelessly.

Provider Henry Martín turns goalscorer for América

Even with almost a full half of soccer left to play, by this stage there was an inevitability of how the match would end up and Martín removed any remaining doubt with a superb goal just after the hour-mark, taking the ball down on the half-turn before calmly slotting past José de Jesús Corona.

Did that 7-0 thrashing suddenly came rushing back to the forefront of the minds of Cruz Azul players and fans alike? Máquina coach Ricardo Ferretti ensured there would be no repeat, shutting up shop in the closing stage of the match, forced to admit defeat.

Las Águilas strengthen grip on top-four place

América move back into second place in the Clausura 2023 standings and have reached 30 points, which means they have a four-point cushion as they look to secure a top-four finish. Cruz Azul, meanwhile, now have no hope of qualifying directly for the ‘liguilla’ quarter-finals but are all but assured of a reclassification spot.

Substitutions

Christian Tabó (45', Carlos Rotondi), Rafael Baca (71', Érik Lira), José Martínez (71', Rodrigo Huescas), Federico Viñas (71', Henry Martín), Brian Rodríguez (71', Jonathan Rodríguez), Leonardo Suárez (78', Alejandro Zendejas), Salvador Reyes (78', Luis Fuentes), Jonathan dos Santos (83', Richard Sánchez), Augusto Lotti (85', Uriel Antuna)

Goals

1-0, 11': Carlos Antuna, 1-1, 41': Alejandro Zendejas, 1-2, 46': Alejandro Zendejas, 1-3, 62': Henry Martin

Cards

Referee: Fernando Guerrero Ramírez
VAR Referee: Ismael Rosario Lopez Penuelas, Christian Kiabek Espinosa Zavala
Michael Estrada (46',Red) Erik Lira (47',Yellow) Luis Fuentes (52',Yellow) Carlos Antuna (55',Yellow) Carlos Rodríguez (64',Yellow) Diego Valdés (66',Yellow)

Table
Table Pts. P W D L
6 25 15 8 1 6
7 22 15 6 4 5
8 21 15 6 3 6
9 19 15 5 4 6
10 18 15 5 3 7
Table Pts. P W D L
1 34 15 11 1 3
2 30 15 8 6 1
3 28 15 8 4 3
4 28 15 8 4 3
5 26 15 7 5 3