While both teams finished the first leg of this semifinal series with 10 men, Morelia had a numerical advantage for most of the second half and they made it count as they grabbed a 2-0 victory against América.
Morelia came out attacking as they looked to make their home-field advantage count, and they had some early chances, most notably when Edison Flores tested Memo Ochoa in the 8th minute. Then, in the 16th, Rodrigo Millar played Luis Mendoza in behind the defense; he drove towards goal and then slid the ball across the top of the six-yard box for Fernando Aristeguieta, who stabbed it home.
The goal was checked by VAR for a possible offside, but it was quickly ruled legitimate: 1-0 for Morelia.
América looked for a response, and Jorge Sánchez and Emanuel Aguilera both had chances to tie it, but Morelia’s defense stood firm. Then, in the 35th minute, the visitors suffered another blow as Sánchez received his second yellow card and was subsequently ejected for a tackle from behind on Flores, leaving América down both a goal and a man.
Nevertheless, the Águilas regrouped and continued searching for an equalizer in the second half. However, that left América vulnerable to counterattacks, and in the 52nd minute Morelia executed one perfectly to add a second goal to their tally.
Aldo Rocha applied the final touch to the counter to make it 2-0 for the hosts and send the partisan crowd packed into the Estadio Morelos into ecstasy.
América was unable to find a response, even after Sebastián Vegas was sent off in the 77th minute with his second yellow card to leave the game 10 vs 10.
With the 2-0 win, Morelia will advance to the final with a win, a draw, or a one-goal loss in Sunday’s second leg; they can advance with a two-goal loss as well as long as they score in it. As for América, they need to win by at least two to move on, and if Morelia scores, they’ll need to win by three.