Cruz Azul came out attacking and they had a penalty shout in just the second minute as Agustín Marchesín came off his line to stop Orbelín Pineda, getting the ball but also bringing down the player; then, when the keeper went to gather the loose ball, he brought down Yoshimar Yotún. But neither the referee nor VAR called a penalty and play continued.
But soon after that, the referee did point to the spot as Jorge Sánchez committed a handball in the box. Milton Caraglio stepped up to take it, and he converted it to make it 0-1 for La Máquina in the 15th minute.
América reacted well to falling behind, however, and they soon had the equalizer. In the 21st minute, Bruno Valdez nodded on a corner kick and the unfortunate Igor Lichnovsky’s attempted clearance ended up in his own net as he made it 1-1 with his own-goal.
Nicolas Castillo then had a golden opportunity to give the Águilas the lead in the 39th minute, but the chance went begging as he sent his shot off target.
The go-ahead goal came just before halftime. In the 45th minute, Roger Martínez sent his low shot from outside the box past a diving Jesús Corona to make it 2-1 for América.
The second half started at a good pace with Cruz Azul looking for an equalizer and América looking to add an insurance goal. Jonathan Rodríguez hit the post in the 48th minute with a shot that took a slight deflection; Andrés Ibargüen responded with a header into the woodwork at the other end.
Cruz Azul had more possession for a stretch but they couldn’t do much to test Marchesín; then América began to take control once again.
In the 74th minute, Ibargüen brought the ball to the top of the box and played in Martínez, who scored his second of the night to give América the comfortable 3-1 lead.
With the 3-1 win, América will advance to the semifinals with a win, a draw, or a one-goal loss in Sunday’s second leg, while Cruz Azul needs to win by two to move on.